Enlightenment, Neoliberalism, and Information Literacy

Maura Seale


This essay focuses on the ways in which ideas popularly associated with the Enlightenment function as common sense in the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, which was formally approved by the Association of College and Research Libraries at the beginning of 2015. This essay begins with a close reading of the Framework for Information Literacy, followed by an analysis of its ideological underpinnings, specifically liberalism. I then use postcolonial and political theory to think through the role of historical difference in pedagogy generally and in the information literacy pedagogy articulated by the Framework more specifically. The hegemonic ideological liberalism of the Framework, its universality, narrative of progress, and disinterest in power, must be supplemented with historical difference in order to provide context for its truth claims and to inculcate responsibility to the other. This work could take the form of kairotic information literacy pedagogy, or local and contextual articulations of the Framework, or something else. The Framework is not worthless or useless, but it is also not the answer.   


information literacy; pedagogy; critical theory; neoliberalism; academic libraries


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Copyright (c) 2016 Maura Seale CC BY-NC

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