In Literacy in American Lives (fyi: we read the essay that preceded the book), Deborah Brandt defines “sponsors” in the following ways:
“…any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, and model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold, literacy—and gain advantage by it in some way…. Sponsors set the terms for access to literacy and wield powerful incentives for compliance and loyalty. Sponsors are delivery systems for the economies of literacy, the means by which these forces present themselves to—and through—individual learners.” (19)
Consider the issue of “sponsoring” discussed by Deborah Brandt in light of your upcoming community literacy work. Tobi’s essay on women’s writing workshops offers one example of the complexities of sponsoring literacy behind bars.
What might it mean to sponsor the literacy of a writer/learner at your site? What implications can you anticipate? How might your own literacy be sponsored by the writers/learners you’ll work with?