Name: Ligia Mihut, English Department
Presentation Title: “The Party,
Ceausescu, Romania: Literacy Education and Ideologized Textbooks in Communist Times (1971-1989)"
Date: October 17th, 2013
In the last two decades (1971-1989) of the Communist regime in Romania, literacy education was authoritarian, collective, and regimented guided by army-like principles (Persu, 1998). Modeling the Soviet example, “the fight against illiteracy” campaign, in the words of President Nicolae Ceausescu, was central to the constitution of the “new socialist man.” This ideology originates with Lenin’s own proclamation that “the illiterate person stands outside politics” (Arnove & Graff, 1987). Considering literacy’s central place on the Communist agenda, I explore how textbooks and extracurricular literature deployed specific themes—nature, Romanian history, family, and the Party—to advance affinity for the patria (engl. homeland). Acknowledging that for the most part, the state failed to turn school children into political, class-conscious citizens, I argue that the effects of this monologic discourse produced a blended literacy model that combines certain national elements with global 21st century literacies. To advance this claim, I rely on literacy histories with Romanian immigrants and archival work conducted in Romania comprising a collection of school textbooks, magazines, and Party minutes of the Propaganda and Agitation Commission. The case of literacy in Romania also points to issues of class, national discourse and structures of feelings that shape the literate experience. These are contemporary concerns that must be addressed as we continue to engage in dialogs on diversity and global perspectives in writing and literacy studies.