Thursday, April 9, 2009

Civic Literacy & Civil Rights in a Culture of Simulation

In his remarks at the University of New Mexico's 2008 Civil Rights Symposium, Professor Keith Gilyard asked whether civil rights acts exist only on camera. One need only to ponder the most recent presidential election and its legions of diverse, empowered volunteers whose civil rights work was producing and disseminating information to realize the communication machine has moved online.

The more I've considered the implications of Gilyard's question, however, the more I've contemplated the role and work of online instructors of rhetoric and composition in producing civil rights act. Our and our students’ participation in civic literacy (if not civic activism) is removed from cameras and floats in an intangible medium. Of course, this access to information (and means of information dissemination) presents challenges and rewards. Knowledge must not conceal the grounds of its own foundations, Gilyard argued in the same presentation. But in this information age, where everyone sees and everyone knows, who sees and who knows?

Further follow up questions have been posted to the left. Please feel free to address zero, one, two, or three of the questions and/or generate additional ones!