Proust and the Squid

The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

Proust and the Squid

"Human beings were never born to read," writes Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and child development expert Maryanne Wolf. Reading is a human invention that reflects how the brain rearranges itself to learn something new. In this ambitious, provocative book, Wolf chronicles the remarkable journey of the reading brain not only over the past five thousand years, since writing began, but also over the course of a single child's life, showing in the process why children with dyslexia have reading difficulties and singular gifts. Lively, erudite, and rich with examples, Proust and the Squid asserts that the brain that examined the tiny clay tablets of the Sumerians was a very different brain from the one that is immersed in today's technology-driven literacy. The potential transformations in this changed reading brain, Wolf argues, have profound implications for every child and for the intellectual development of our species.

Proust and the Squid

The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

Proust and the Squid

'We were never born to read', says Maryanne Wolf. 'No specific genes ever dictated reading's development. Human beings invented reading only a few thousand years ago. And with this invention, we changed the very organisation of our brain, which in turn expanded the ways we were able to think, which altered the intellectual evolution of our species.' In "Proust and the Squid", Maryanne Wolf explores our brains' near-miraculous ability to arrange and re-arrange themselves in response to external circumstances. She examines how this 'open architecture', the elasticity of our brains, helps and hinders humans in their attempts to learn to read, and to process the written language. She also investigates what happens to people whose brains make it difficult to acquire these skills, such as those with dyslexia.Wolf, a world expert on the reading brain, brings both a personal passion and deft style to this, the story of the reading brain. It is a pop science masterpiece on a subject that anyone who loves reading will be sure to find fascinating.

Reader, Come Home

The Reading Brain in a Digital World

Reader, Come Home

The author of the acclaimed Proust and the Squid follows up with a lively, ambitious, and deeply informative book that considers the future of the reading brain and our capacity for critical thinking, empathy, and reflection as we become increasingly dependent on digital technologies. A decade ago, Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid revealed what we know about how the brain learns to read and how reading changes the way we think and feel. Since then, the ways we process written language have changed dramatically with many concerned about both their own changes and that of children. New research on the reading brain chronicles these changes in the brains of children and adults as they learn to read while immersed in a digitally dominated medium. Drawing deeply on this research, this book comprises a series of letters Wolf writes to us—her beloved readers—to describe her concerns and her hopes about what is happening to the reading brain as it unavoidably changes to adapt to digital mediums. Wolf raises difficult questions, including: Will children learn to incorporate the full range of "deep reading" processes that are at the core of the expert reading brain? Will the mix of a seemingly infinite set of distractions for children’s attention and their quick access to immediate, voluminous information alter their ability to think for themselves? With information at their fingertips, will the next generation learn to build their own storehouse of knowledge, which could impede the ability to make analogies and draw inferences from what they know? Will all these influences, in turn, change the formation in children and the use in adults of "slower" cognitive processes like critical thinking, personal reflection, imagination, and empathy that comprise deep reading and that influence both how we think and how we live our lives? Will the chain of digital influences ultimately influence the use of the critical analytical and empathic capacities necessary for a democratic society? How can we preserve deep reading processes in future iterations of the reading brain? Who are the "good readers" of every epoch? Concerns about attention span, critical reasoning, and over-reliance on technology are never just about children—Wolf herself has found that, though she is a reading expert, her ability to read deeply has been impacted as she has become, inevitably, increasingly dependent on screens. Wolf draws on neuroscience, literature, education, technology, and philosophy and blends historical, literary, and scientific facts with down-to-earth examples and warm anecdotes to illuminate complex ideas that culminate in a proposal for a biliterate reading brain. Provocative and intriguing, Reader, Come Home is a roadmap that provides a cautionary but hopeful perspective on the impact of technology on our brains and our most essential intellectual capacities—and what this could mean for our future.

Tales of Literacy for the 21st Century

The Literary Agenda

Tales of Literacy for the 21st Century

The Literary Agenda is a series of short polemical monographs about the importance of literature and of reading in the wider world and about the state of literary education inside schools and universities. The category of 'the literary' has always been contentious. What is clear, however, is how increasingly it is dismissed or is unrecognised as a way of thinking or an arena for thought. It is sceptically challenged from within, for example, by the sometimes rival claims of cultural history, contextualized explanation, or media studies. It is shaken from without by even greater pressures: by economic exigency and the severe social attitudes that can follow from it; by technological change that may leave the traditional forms of serious human communication looking merely antiquated. For just these reasons this is the right time for renewal, to start reinvigorated work into the meaning and value of literary reading. Being Literate in the 21st Century wrestles with critical, timely questions for 21st-century society. How does literacy change the human brain? What does it mean to be a literate or a non-literate person in the present digital culture: for example, what will be lost in the present reading brain, and what will be gained with different mediums than print? What are the consequences of a digital reading brain for the literary mind and for writing itself ? Can knowledge about the reading brain and advances in technology offer new forms of literacy and new forms of knowledge to the peoples in remote regions of the world who would never otherwise become literate? By using both research from cognitive neuroscience, psycholinguistics, child development, and education, and considering literary examples from world literature, Maryanne Wolf plots a course that seeks to preserve the deepest forms of reading from the past, while developing the cognitive skills necessary for this century's next generation.

The Shallows

How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember

The Shallows

In this ground-breaking and compelling book, Nicholas Carr argues that not since Gutenberg invented printing has humanity been exposed to such a mind-altering technology. The Shallows draws on the latest research to show that the Net is literally re-wiring our brains inducing only superficial understanding. As a consequence there are profound changes in the way we live and communicate, remember and socialise - even in our very conception of ourselves. By moving from the depths of thought to the shallows of distraction, the web, it seems, is actually fostering ignorance. The Shallows is not a manifesto for luddites, nor does it seek to turn back the clock. Rather it is a revelatory reminder of how far the Internet has become enmeshed in our daily existence and is affecting the way we think. This landmark book compels us all to look anew at our dependence on this all-pervasive technology.

Reading and the Reader

The Literary Agenda

Reading and the Reader

The Literary Agenda is a series of short polemical monographs about the importance of literature and of reading in the wider world and about the state of literary education inside schools and universities. The category of 'the literary' has always been contentious. What is clear, however, is how increasingly it is dismissed or is unrecognised as a way of thinking or an arena for thought. It is sceptically challenged from within, for example, by the sometimes rival claims of cultural history, contextualized explanation, or media studies. It is shaken from without by even greater pressures: by economic exigency and the severe social attitudes that can follow from it; by technological change that may leave the traditional forms of serious human communication looking merely antiquated. For just these reasons this is the right time for renewal, to start reinvigorated work into the meaning and value of literary reading. Reading and the Reader offers a defence of reading serious literature, where reading offers a place for inner contemplation, emotion, imagination, and thought-experiment through the energising booster-rocket of literature. It is argued that literature creates a holding-ground in which a dense sense of experience is registered. Such a place is vital to human well-being in the following respects: in sustaining the ability to use and not just suffer one's experience; to be able to think one's thoughts, even those that are customarily unadmitted or felt as anomalous or unworthy; to find room for a realm of speculation in between religions and secularization, in between literature and life. Reading and the Reader, one of the first volumes in the Literary Agenda series, exists to defend the value of reading, to narrow the gaps between the way writers and readers think, to bring literary thinking into the ordinary thinking of the world - especially at a time when the arts and humanities are under some threat. Literature is useful in terms of deep human needs. It offers a form of time-travel - across ages, countries, different minds - that provides alternatives to any conventional worldview.

Spiritual Intelligence and the Neuroplastic Brain

A Contextual Interpretation of Modern History

Spiritual Intelligence and the Neuroplastic Brain

Our brains are getting wired differently in the world of digital technology, information revolution, and in the inter-cultural world of global society. Think of the new vocabulary: Global brain, collective intelligence, global village, and cyberspace. That should tell us something about the neural rewiring that is taking place inside of our brains, whether or not we are aware of it. The fact that the human brain changes throughout a person's life in response to intellectual stimulation, physical exercise, exposure to new cultural environments, learning opportunities, and challenges is a revolutionary discovery. Till twenty years ago neuroscientists believed in the conventional theory that the brain's ability at making new neural connections stopped before a child entered adolescence. That is the old dogma. There is a "Second Copernican Revolution" taking place inside of our brains, writes the author, quoting Carl Zimmer. Some experts are suggesting that we are already living in what Richard Restack calls the "neurosociety." Ray Kurzweil, the futurist, is predicting that by 2045 A.D., human beings will be living in an era of "singularity," when non biological machines invented by human brains and human ingenuity are going to outsmart human intelligence billions of times. What is going to be the fate of the human spirit, human spirituality, the feeling of connection to a force and power that is greater than us (God), our ability to use spiritual imagination and our intelligence? Are we progressively moving away from religion and community-based spirituality into the "spirituality of different strokes for different folks?" In his groundbreaking book, Spiritual Intelligence and The Neuroplastic Brain: A Contextual Interpretation of Modern History, Charles W. Mark takes the reader on a journey through modern history and shows the glimpse of what is to come. http: //www.spirituality-intelligence.com

Rationality and the Literate Mind

Rationality and the Literate Mind

This book re-examines the old debate about the relationship between rationality and literacy. Does writing "restructure consciousness?" Do preliterate societies have a different "mind-set" from literate societies? Is reason "built in" to the way we think? How is literacy related to numeracy? Is the "logical form" that Western philosophers recognize anything more than an extrapolation from the structure of the written sentence? Is logic, as developed formally in Western education, intrinsically beyond the reach of the preliterate mind? What light, if any, do the findings of contemporary neuroscience throw on such issues? Roy Harris challenges the received mainstream opinion that reason is an intrinsic property of the human mind, and argues that the whole Western conception of rational thought, from Classical Greece down to modern symbolic logic, is a by-product of the way literacy developed in European cultures.

Story Smart: Using the Science of Story to Persuade, Influence, Inspire, and Teach

Story Smart: Using the Science of Story to Persuade, Influence, Inspire, and Teach

This one-of-a-kind book reveals the secrets of a story's power to persuade, inspire, influence, and to teach. • Shows how to use the power of story to get your message across in any medium or venue • Explores the convergence of the neural science of story with the art of communication to reveal the power of words • Provides tips, techniques, and strategies for structuring your stories for the most impact • Reveals the common communication pitfalls to avoid

Read, Rhyme, and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers, and Parents

Read, Rhyme, and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers, and Parents

Designed to promote literacy in young children and to empower parents, educators, and librarians, this guide is filled with simple strategies, creative activities, and detailed instructions that help make reading fun. • Recommended book lists for promoting reading • An overview of basic strategies and components of an early literacy program • Helpful outline of pre-literacy skills required for reading success • Detailed instructions for early literacy activities