New Book Announcement: Written by an Original Member of the Toronto School: David R. Olson



The Mind on Paper: Reading, Consciousness and Rationality

David R. Olson, Professor Emeritus, OISE, University of Toronto

Author Information:

Planned Publication: November 2016   –   Not yet published   –   Hardback   –   ISBN: 9781107162891

Although the importance of literacy is widely acknowledged in society and remains at the top of the political agenda, writing has been slow to establish a place in the cognitive sciences. Olson argues that to understand the cognitive implications of literacy, it is necessary to see reading and writing as providing access to and consciousness of aspects of language, such as phonemes, words and sentences, that are implicit and unconscious in speech. Reading and writing create a system of metarepresentational concepts that bring those features of language into consciousness as a subject of discourse. This consciousness of language is essential not only to acquiring literacy but also to the formation of systematic thought and rationality. The Mind on Paper is a compelling exploration of what literacy does for our speech and hence for our thought, and will be of interest to readers in developmental psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, and education.

  • Presents a general theory of how reading and writing invite a new and distinctive consciousness of language
  • Finds a significant place for writing in the cognitive and educational sciences
  • Shows that the ‘reading wars’ can be resolved by a better understanding of the role of metarepresentational knowledge in reading and learning to read

Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction: Reading, Writing and the Mind
1. Awakening: reading and consciousness
Part II. Theories of the Relation between Writing and Mind:
2. Inventing writing: the history of writing and the ontogeny of writing
3. Dewey and the New Pragmatists: reading, writing and mind
4. Vygotsky and the Vygotskians
5. The cognitive science of metarepresentation
Part III. Reading and the Invention of Language about Language:
6. Phonemes and the alphabet
7. The discovery of words and thinking about words
8. Sentences and logic
9. Prose and rational argument
10. The testing of rationality and the rationality of testing
Part IV. The Implications and Uses of Metarepresentational Language:
11. The psychology and pedagogy of reading
12. The psychology and pedagogy of rationality
Part V. Conclusions:
13. Reading, consciousness and rationality
Author index
Subject index.

Look Inside (PDF): Front Matter (86 KB)

Follow the link below to retrieve PDFs of: Index (80 KB)  –  Marketing Excerpt (85 KB)  –  Table of Contents (38 KB)  –  Copyright Information Page (36 KB)   Source: 

See for author background information and previous books: 

“Conceptually, I am a child at at least a step-child of Jerome Bruner, Jack Goody, Marshall McLuhan and Eric Havelock.” – Preface to The World on Paper (1994)


One Response to “New Book Announcement: Written by an Original Member of the Toronto School: David R. Olson”

  1. Congratulations to David Olson – looks like an interesting study. Makes me wonder how the mind on screen differs from mind on paper.


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