“Is Ghostwriting Ethical?” with Deborah Brandt

Episode 26:

Originally broadcast: March 13, 2011




Everyday, politicians publish books telling the stories of their lives and their political views. But more often than not these “autobiographies” are written by ghost writers, unnamed people who imitate the voice of the author for money and a brief acknowledgement in the introduction. Is this lying? Is this ethical? Should it diminish the politician’s credibility. Join WHY? as we examine this complicated issue with one of America’s foremost experts on literacy and its connection to politics.

Deborah Brandt recently retired from her position as Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Among her many publication is the article “Who’s the President? Ghostwriting and Shifting Values in Literacy,” which appeared in the journal College English, and the books Literacy as Involvement: The Acts of Writers, Readers and Texts (Southern Illinois University Press, 1990; Literacy in American Lives (Cambridge University Press, 2001; Literacy and Learning: Reading, Writing, Society (Jossey-Bass, 2009).

Jack Russell Weinstein, host of WHY? remarks, “Deb Brandt has a powerful way of unpacking how complicated everyday life is. Reading and writing are taken for granted more than just about anything we do, but Deb can show better than just about anyone that our attitudes about literacy contain a universe of perspectives, beliefs, and commitments. Having her on the show will be eye opening for every listener.”

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