Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the World

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'Professor Ong has managed to synthesize an incredible amount of thought and at the same time has carried some of his earlier ideas still further. Orality and Literacy should become a classic. It is eminently assignable for undergraduate courses' - Professor John Ahern

'No comparable work on this important subject exists. Thanks to the lucidity of its style and presentation of complex thought, this is a work that will be accessible and useful...it will be the standard introduction to this topic for some years to come' - Choice

'Professor Walter Ong's new book explores some of the profound changes in our thought processes, personality and social structures which are the result, at various stages of our history, of the development of speech, writing and print. And he projects his analysis further into the age of mass electronic communications media...the cumulative impact of the book is dazzling. Read this book. Literature will never be the same again. And neither will you' - Robert Giddings, Tribune

'This admirably lucid book...has obvious implications for philosophy, literature, linguistics, sociology, psychology, education, and Biblical studies...I believe this is the best book Ong has published' - Thomas J. Farrell, Cross Currents

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415027960
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 10/1/1982
  • Series: New Accents Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents


1 The Orality of Language

The Literate Mind and the Oral Past

Did You Say 'Oral Literature'?

2 The Modern Discovery of Primary Oral Cultures

Early Awareness of Oral Tradition

The Homeric Question

Milman Parry's Discovery

Consequent and

Related Work

3 Some Psychodynamics of Orality

Sounded Word as Power and Action

You Know What you can Recall: Mnemonics and Formulas

Further Characteristics of Orally Based Thought and Expression

(i) Additive Rather than Subordinative

(ii) Aggregative Rather than


(iii) Redundant or 'Copious'

(iv) Conservative or Traditionalist

(v) Close to the Human Lifeworld

(vi) Agonistically Toned

(vii) Empathetic and Participatory Rather than Objectively Distanced

(viii) Homeostatic

(ix) Situational Rather than Abstract



Verbomotor Lifestyle

The Noetic Role of Heroic 'Heavy' Figures and of the Bizarre

The Interiority of Sound

Orality, Community and the Sacral

Words are not Signs

4 Writing Restructures Consciousness

The New World of Autonomous Discourse


Writing and Computers

Writing is a Technology

What is 'Writing' or 'Script'?

Many Scripts but Only one Alphabet

The Onset of Literacy

From Memory to Written Records

Some Dynamics of Textuality

Distance, Precision, Grapholects and Magnavocabularies


Rhetoric and the Places

Interactions: Learned Languages

Tenaciousness of Orality

Print, Space and Closure

Hearing-Dominance Yields to Sight-Dominance Space and Meaning

(i) Indexes

(ii) Books, Contents and Labels

(iii) Meaningful Surface

(iv) Typographic


More Diffuse Effects

Print and Closure: Intertextuality

Post-Typography: Electronics

6 Oral Memory, the Story Line and Characterization

The Primacy of the Story Line

Narrative and Oral Cultures

Oral Memory and the Story Line

Closure of Plot:

Travelogue to Detective Story

The 'Round' Character, Writing and Print

7 Some Theorems

Literary History

New Criticism and Formalism


Textualists and Deconstructionists

Speech-act and Reader-response Theory

Social Sciences, Philosophy, Biblical


Orality, Writing and Being Human

'Media' Versus Human Communication

The Inward Turn: Consciousness and the Text

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2000

    Most Interesting Psychological Study!!!

    The evolution of language is studied in historical and psychological contexts in this wonderful book! It is a book that opens new doors to the way we think! It makes it interesting to study the history of communication and language. Linguistics and psychology in a new light! I loved it and would recommend it to anyone.

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