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The Light of KnowledgeLiteracy Activism and the Politics of Writing in South India$
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Francis Cody

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452024

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452024.001.0001

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Search for a Method

Search for a Method

The Media of Enlightenment

(p.134) 4 Search for a Method
The Light of Knowledge

Francis Cody

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores how the search to develop a new social function for literature in the people's reading movement speaks to broad questions about the mediating roles of literary genre, performance, and language more generally in political activism. Tracking a shift of emphasis in the Arivoli Iyakkam's critical pedagogy toward reading aloud, it argues that experiments with literary approaches forced a new awareness of the social and embodied qualities of language among activists. As a result of the struggle to devise a new mode of literary production fit for activism, the Arivoli Iyakkam turned away from vanguardist pedagogy toward folklore in their attempts to shape a literature appropriate for neoliterates to read aloud. Experiments in education constituted the search for a linguistic practice that would be both enlightening and true to forms of expression characteristic of village life. Once again, activism was confronted with the question of which cultural forms can be recontextualized so as to suit the vision of progress fueling the movement.

Keywords:   Arivoli Iyakkam, social function, literature, reading movement, political activism, folklore

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