Ayalon, Ami. Reading Palestine: Printing and Literacy, 1900-1948.

PositionBook Review

Ayalon, Ami. Reading Palestine: Printing and Literacy, 1900-1948. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2004. Paper $21.95.

The work discusses the development of the revolution in literacy that occurred in Palestine in the span of 50 years. The destruction of Palestinian society ended that revolution. Literacy and education primarily involved urban dwellers and essentially neglected the rural population. Rapid social and political change in that period led to increases in the production of the printed text that eventually contributed to the growth of the "literate community." The community comprised multiple layers. The educated elite, who existed even in the 19th century Ottoman period, expanded significantly after 1900, but remained tiny by comparison to the rest of society. State school graduates constituted another layer from the middle- and lower-classes. The largest group was the Kuttab (network of traditional Quranic schools) graduates, which was not very educated. Within those layers, there were disparities beyond the town-country divide. More males were in each...

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