Writing About Writing (p. 328-352)
“Sponsors of Literacy” by Deborah Brandt
In “Sponsors of Literacy,” Deborah Brandt attempts to explain literacy, its history, and how there are influences that form the way we learn and practice literacy. Brandt argues that the forces that influence an individual’s literacy are sponsors of literacy. Some “forces” that Brandt discusses are influential people (such as parents, siblings, teachers, or mentors), culture, race, gender, language and location, access to technology, and politics. Brandt described several events in our history to help define what exactly a sponsor of literacy is. She also interviewed several people to find their unique literacy history and used them as examples in her writing. Varying ages, backgrounds, and sponsors indicate that literacy changes with each generation and is a valued commodity.
Brandt’s main focus was that opportunities and access to sponsors vary and cause stratification in the literacy of all people, that sponsors contribute to “the literacy crisis,” and that sponsors can be a means of self-development and social change. The availability of sponsors hinges on several factors and some people have more access to better forces than others- thus diversity among literacy is created. Brandt describes “the literacy crisis” as the gap between people’s ability to reach literacy standards that are continually rising. Sponsors contribute to the gap because of their participation in economic and political competition and competition leads to more people being expected to do more reading and writing. Brandt argues that literacy is misappropriated and that change in individual literacy can relate to more big-picture changes. Brandt closes her work, and summarizes it, by saying, “What I have tried to suggest is that as we assist and study individuals in pursuit of literacy, we must also recognize how literacy is in pursuit of them.” Sponsorship of literacy is unique to each person.