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Humanities 2015, 4(1), 68-79; doi:10.3390/h4010068

From Literature to Cultural Literacy

Department of Cultures and Languages, School of Arts, Birkbeck University of London, WC1H 0PD London, UK
A version of this essay was presented at the workshop Funding policies and research values: strategies and needs, risks and prospects at the University of Trieste, 12 May 2014, under the title ‘Cross-disciplinary Humanities: Strategies for and Strategies of Cultural Literacy’. Some of the material included has also appeared in two other publications: [1] and [2].
Academic Editor: Cinzia Ferrini
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 26 November 2014 / Accepted: 17 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [192 KB, uploaded 4 February 2015]


In recent years, the academic field of literary studies has changed radically. Literary scholars are now working on objects other than poems, dramas or fiction. This essay presents an ongoing strategic project, Cultural Literacy in Contemporary Europe, which was founded in 2007 and run in 2009-11 as an European Science Foundation & Cooperation in Science and Technology (ESF-COST) synergy. Its aim is to investigate and celebrate the range of research currently being conducted in the field we have renamed “literary-and-cultural studies”, or LCS. This research aims to enhance cultural literacy. Cultural literacy is an attitude to the social and cultural phenomena that shape our existence—bodies of knowledge, fields of social action, individuals or groups, and of course cultural artefacts, including texts—which views them as being essentially readable: it is a way of looking at social and cultural issues, especially issues of change and mobility, through the lens of literary thinking. The project focuses on four academic fields—cultural memory, migration and translation, electronic textuality, and biopolitics and the body—and four concepts: textuality, fictionality, rhetoricity and historicity. It stresses multilingualism and is part of the movement of interdisciplinarity within the humanities and between the humanities and other disciplines, but remains a distinctive activity within that larger movement. View Full-Text
Keywords: cultural literacy; textuality; rhetoricity; fictionality; cultural memory; electronic textuality; migration; interdisciplinarity; multilingualism; comparative studies cultural literacy; textuality; rhetoricity; fictionality; cultural memory; electronic textuality; migration; interdisciplinarity; multilingualism; comparative studies
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Segal, N. From Literature to Cultural Literacy. Humanities 2015, 4, 68-79.

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