walter ong (1912-2003)

Earlier today, I learned from a post to SHARP-L by Thomas J. Farrell that Walter Ong has died.

It would be almost impossible to exaggerate Ong’s influence on the study of print culture and of orality & literacy. I first encountered Ong in a grad school seminar, where Orality and Literacy was an assigned text, and I still return to this book when I need a clearly written reminder of the some of the most important issues I’m working through in my own thinking. Ong’s work has not gone unchallenged, of course, and I don’t agree with all of his assertions. However, he contributed a great deal to the groundwork of what many of us do, and any scholar would be lucky to have had a fraction of his influence.

Go take a look at the Walter J. Ong Project at St. Louis University, then follow the Amazon links below to get the bibliographic info on some of his published work.

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7 thoughts on “walter ong (1912-2003)

  1. Walter J. Ong, SJ

    Via George, I learned this morning that Walter J. Ong, SJ has died. When I first read Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word in graduate school, it was one of those books where the answers were kept: that

  2. I’m catching up on my back reading after a long weekend out of town last weekend and a busy week this week, only to find that Walter Ong has died.
    It’s moments like this that I feel most schizophrenic, having completed a PhD in English but elected to work outside the academy. No one I work with would have any idea who Ong is, and it’s odd to have pieces like this that are both central and peripheral to my life. After living and breathing the academy for so long, it was quite a rude interruption to be cut off from it entirely. (I’ve been toying with the idea of presenting some conference papers or writing an article or two, but that requires discipline I’m not sure I have. I would not yet have finished my dissertation if my director hadn’t accepted a job at another university.)
    It’s part of that identity crisis I had when I graduated. After 10 years, I could no longer describe myself as a (self-deprecating) long-suffering grad student. (I realized when my sister and I attended a wedding with many guests neither of us knew that her presented identity was as the mother of a (then) 3-year-old and that mind was as a grad student. Sadly reductionary for two women who both worked full time while keeping up myriad other responsibilities!) But I can’t go around in civilian life introducing myself as a PhD, either – how obnoxious would that be?!?! Suddenly upon graduation I realized I had lost my identity! As it is, I get weird looks from work friends with I drop literary references. I still haven’t figured out how to reconcile my disparate pieces.
    Anyway, not so much about Ong, huh, but this is the path it took me down. (I, who have never been a fan of stream-of-consciousness writing)
    KB

  3. Wow, very nice post, KB. You should start one of those … what are they called? … you know, people write their thoughts and experiences on the web for other people to read? … you know … oooh, it’s on the tip of my tongue … Well, anyway, thanks for the thoughtful comment. ;-)

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