Mobility and Literacy: Development of the Public Network Concept


  • Kedrick James University of British Columbia



This paper briefly historicizes English language mail services, postal reform, and the inauguration of global delivery systems for material mails in order to outline the origins of junk mail and discursive excess in network concepts and systems. These historical developments not only made mail services affordable to common people, but also created the conditions necessary for inexpensive, rapid delivery---and dumping---of bulk advertising and circulars (the precursor of spam email) throughout the literate field of personal correspondences. From a contemporary perspective, electronic mail alters conventions that have evolved through epistolary practices. Situated on a background of a formal, dialogical ethos of personal answerability among a distributed public, mass mail makes global populations the object rather than a dialogical subject of literate relations, with consequential changes to social and cultural habits and attitudes toward personal correspondence. To conclude this paper explores global dynamics of digital correspondence that place unanswerability at the core of twenty-first century dialogical relations.

Author Biography

Kedrick James, University of British Columbia

Kedrick James is a writer, teacher, and arts-based researcher specializing in secondary English curriculum and teacher education. Through his literary pursuits, which include collaborations with musicians, video artists, visual artists, poets and programmers, he is continually prodding the pedagogical possibilities of creative living, teaching, and research. His research interests focus on information environments, cultural recycling, language automation, and assessment of written English. He is an instructor at the University of British Columbia, Department of Language and Literacy Education.




How to Cite

James, K. (2012). Mobility and Literacy: Development of the Public Network Concept. Language and Literacy, 14(2), 6–26.