Archives For Literacy


Belinda Jack - The Woman Reader The Power of Women’s Literacy

A Feature Review of

The Woman Reader

Belinda Jack

Hardback: Yale UP, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Rachelle Eaton

The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack is a chronological survey of the history of women’s literacy. I read this book with an eye to how it might inform the practice of missional reading in church communities, where women are often the majority. I hoped to make sense of why, for example, my local library’s book club is almost entirely women, but in other circles I notice only the men of the group having important theological or political discussions shaped by their reading. Can gains in women’s literacy necessarily be equated with intellectual engagement or social influence? Although Jack is clearly concerned with the power dynamics of women’s reading throughout history, it doesn’t appear to be her purpose to make a conclusive argument. Since it is a three-hundred page book, I’ll focus on just a few parts of the history that shed some light on the question.

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We’re Giving Away Over $250 of
Free books This Summer!!!

Summer is right around the corner, the perfect time to catch up on reading some great books.  And we here at the ERB want to jump start your summer reading by giving you five books (of your choice)!

Invite your friends (or yourself) to a FREE email subscription to The Englewood Review, and you and any friends who activate their subscription will be entered to win five free books from the list at the bottom of this page [You may need to click the “Read the rest of this entry…” link] !

The books we are giving away are titles that we have reviewed over the last few years, or ones that slipped through the cracks and never got reviewed.

**** Deadline Extended!!!  ****
Enter before NOON on Thurs. June 17…

On June 17, we will pick 5 winners.  The first name drawn will get to choose 5 books, the 2nd person drawn will get to choose 5 from the remaining books and so on through the 5th place winner, who will get to pick 5 titles from the remaining 11.



A Brief Review of

Why Boys Fail:
Saving Our Sons from an Educational System
That’s Leaving Them Behind
Richard Whitmire.

Hardback:,  2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon.

Most of us relax into “conventional wisdom” about the way the world works until someone comes along and yanks us out of the metaphorical mental easy chair. Author Richard Whitmire has confronted the conventional wisdom that boys have all the advantages in the classroom with a yank meant to jolt educators and parents into re-thinking their assumptions.

Whitmire, an education writer with an solid resume, marshaled an impressive amount of research to support the central thesis of his book: “The world has gotten more verbal, boys haven’t”. Whether it is an early focus on reading or writing or a shift in math instruction from crunching numbers to solving word problems, Whitmire insists that current instructional trends heavily favor female students.

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“The Cult of Self and
The Tyranny of Illusion”

A Review of
Empire of Illusion:
The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

by Chris Hedges.

 Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.


Empire of Illusion:
The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Chris Hedges.

Hardback: Nation Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Susan Sontag’s seminal 1973 book On Photography begins in Plato’s cave, “still reveling, [humankind’s] age-old habit, in mere images of the truth. But being educated by photographs is not like being educated by older, more artisanal images.” She continues, “By furnishing the already crowded world with a duplicate one of images, photography makes us feel that the world is more available than it really is. Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution.” Similarly, Chris Hedges begins his new book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle – after a visit to the World Wrestling Entertainment ring – back in Plato’s cave, “chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staple of news, celebrity gossip New Age mysticism, and pop psychology” (15). It is the replacement of reality with illusion, and the inability to see beyond the illusion that dominates Empire of Illusion.

    Divided into five chapters, the Illusions of Literacy, Love, Wisdom, Happiness, and America narrate what reads like many social constructivist or ‘society of spectacle’ critiques of the last several decades, although Hedges places these illusory experiences right in the middle of our current politics, economics and entertainment. And it would seem the illusions are easier to come by than reality itself, as many other writers – such as Wendell Berry or Neil Postman (both alluded to by Hedges here) have described in various works over the years. It is, however, Sontag’s essays on photography that I keep returning to as a framework for contextualizing the dismal images Hedges cites as indications of the disintegration of reality. Continue Reading…


With more than a little irony, we offer you an excellent video interview which introduces Chris Hedges’ new book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.  We will feature a review of this book in Vol. 2 #35, due out September 4.

Part 1 of 2:

Part 2 of 2: