Summer 2017

Date & location Speaker(s) & Affiliation  Title and abstract
16 May 2017, County Main, SR 2 Giovanna Battiston, Sheffield Hallam University

The lived literacy experiences of practising marketers in the workplace

My doctoral research takes a New Literacy Studies perspective to exploring the lived experiences of a team of marketing practitioners working in a UK higher education context. I examine how the research participants use literacy practices to construct and manage relationships with others both inside and outside of the organisation.

My interest in exploring marketing practitioners as a discourse community arises from the responsibility they have within an organisation to use writing to initiate, transmit and manage messages around products and services, but that in doing so in today’s global knowledge economy they can experience cultural, geographic and time-bounded challenges in interacting with diverse stakeholder groups through a broad choice of traditional and digital channels.

The aim of the study is to increase awareness of the literacy needs of practising marketers and help educators to consider interventions that can both prepare people to enter the profession and support situated learning.

POSTPONED to autumn 2017; 23 May 2017, County South, C89 Johnny Unger and George Green, Lancaster University Creative writing practices and national identity construction

How people talk and write about national identity, as well as national narratives and myths, has long been a focus of critical discourse studies (e.g. in the work of Wodak, van Leeuwen and others). At the same time, the role of national identity in creative fiction has generated a huge amount of scholarship, not least in the context of globalised, post-colonial world (e.g. following Spivak’s seminal work in this area). The former body of work, largely associated with linguistics, has primarily focussed on detailed analysis of linguistic/discursive strategies in elite texts (political speeches, media texts) but has also incorporated voices “from below” via focus groups with ordinary people. It has however not generally dealt with creative texts. The work from a cultural studies/literary perspective, on the other hand, has tended to identify broader themes relating to national identity and has made explicit links to the biography and lived experience of authors and also the subjects of fiction.

What has been left relatively unexplored, however, are the practices of writers themselves in including indicators of national identity in their writing. In this LRDG talk we will show how we are attempting to address this gap, and will present some initial results from an investigation into the practices of student creative writers in the UK and Lithuania. We will introduce the multi-level methodology we have developed in our initial study, which comprised asking participants to carry out a rewriting task and written reflection and then take part in a focus-group. The data generated at each stage are analysed for specific linguistic/discursive phenomena used to construct national identity and to locate a story in a particular place and imbue it with “nation-ness”. The outcome is not only a greater understanding of how exactly national identity is handled by writers, but also how creative writing learning and teaching practices can be adapted as a result.

6 June 2017, County South, B89 Rachel Bélisle, Université de Sherbrooke Relationship with writing: a francophone notion?

In the adult education field in Québec, the notion of ‘relationship with writing’ or ‘relationship with literacy’ (rapport à l’écrit) takes its origin from two French authors: Besse (1995), who studies adult literacy along three dimensions (affective, cognitive and social) of the appropriation of writing (appropriation de l’écrit), and Charlot (1997) who studies relationship with knowledge from the ‘sociology of the subject’ perspective. Rapport à is sometimes translated by ‘attitudes to’ or ‘relation to’, as well as ‘relationship with’. Relationship with writing can be defined as a person’s set of relations with writing, object and mode of inscription in the world, structuring thinking, communication and expression (Bélisle, 2006). Based on the results of different empirical studies in non-formal or formal education in Québec (Bélisle, 2003; Bélisle & Cardinal-Picard, 2012; Bélisle & Rioux, 2016; Cardinal-Picard, 2010; Thériault & Bélisle, 2012), this presentation will explore the interest and value of this notion for literacy studies.

Bélisle, R. (2003). Pluralité du rapport à l’écrit d’acteurs œuvrant en milieux communautaires auprès de jeunes adultes peu scolarisés. Thèse de doctorat en éducation, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke. http://savoirs.usherbrooke.ca/handle/11143/5819.

Bélisle, R. (2006). Socialisation à l’écrit et pluralité du rapport à l’écrit d’acteurs du communautaire. In R. Bélisle et S. Bourdon (Eds.), Pratiques et apprentissage de l’écrit dans les sociétés éducatives. (p. 145-172). Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval.

Bélisle, R. & Cardinal-Picard, M. (2012). Importance de l’écrit dans les pratiques éducatives de conseillères et conseillers d’orientation. In R. Bélisle (Ed.), Écrire, lire et apprendre dans la vie adulte (p. 67-87). Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval.

Bélisle, R. & Rioux, I. (2016). Writing in Recognition of Prior Learning at the Secondary Education Level. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 28(1), 15-27. http://cjsae.library.dal.ca/index.php/cjsae/article/view/5359/pdf_59.

Besse, J.-M. (1995). L’écrit, l’école et l’illettrisme. Paris, France: Éditions Magnard.

Cardinal-Picard, M. (2010). Pratiques de l’écrit et rapport à l’écrit de conseillères et conseillers d’orientation au coeur de la relation d’orientation. Thèse de doctorat en éducation, Université de Sherbrooke, Canada. http://savoirs.usherbrooke.ca/.

Charlot, B. (1997). Du rapport au savoir. Éléments pour une théorie. Paris: Anthropos.

Thériault, V. & Bélisle, R. (2012). Écrit et apprentissage dans la vie de jeunes adultes en situation de précarité. In R. Bélisle (Ed.), Écrire, lire et apprendre dans la vie adulte (p. 111-128). Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval.

20 June 2017, County South, B89 Mark Sebba, Lancaster University Multimodal, multidimensional, multilingual: an approach to product packaging

Packaging of common household items such as foods, drinks and pharmaceutical products is a large part of the textual landscape of homes and shops almost everywhere. Multilingual packaging is especially common in countries which are officially bi- or multilingual, where it may be a legal requirement; but packaging with text in multiple languages, appealing to supranational or global communities of users is common elsewhere as well.

This paper will provide a preliminary theory and analysis of multilingual product packaging, approaching it from two perspectives: multimodality, where texts function both as language and as images, with semiotic interactions between the two; and multidimensionality, where product packages are analysed as three-dimensional objects (in contrast with two-dimensional signage, for example). Three-dimensional space allows for interpretations such as ‘front’, ‘back’, ‘top’, ‘base’ of containers. These interpretations are often produced through text and image, and may be linked to particular languages in a specific context (‘English on the front’, ‘Afrikaans on the back’).

The paper is based on observations of multilingual packaging of products in everyday use, including packaging designed for three types of market: officially bilingual countries, multilingual countries and multilingual international markets.

Three-dimensional space and geometrical relations, it is argued, are typically used to represent informational hierarchies (marketing messages on the front, safety warnings on the back) but also can represent sociolinguistic hierarchies (e.g. most important language on the front, less important on the side or base). Alternatively, symmetry and space may be used as visual metaphors to establish languages as equal, avoiding or negating such hierarchies. This strategy is typical in countries where there is official equality between languages. Where products are packaged for an international market, more diverse and complex arrangements of language and text are found.

27 June 2017, County South, B89 Kathrin Kaufold, University of Stochholm Mediating communication on healthcare access for migrants in Sweden

At the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, a large number of migrants came to Sweden. In the Stockholm area, the County Council produced brochures to inform about healthcare access for asylum seekers and spread this information via organisations involved in welcoming migrants. The study traces the information on healthcare access and investigates the role of mediators who were involved in recontextualizing the information in different interactional situations. In a ‘trans-contextual analysis’ (Kell 2015), the study retrospectively follows the trajectories of meaning-making across spatial, linguistic and cultural boundaries. The data include the Council’s brochures, an initial survey on their use, and retrospective narrative interviews with five different actor groups. The study highlights the role of the physical brochures and alternative ways of information seeking. In this process, people can be assigned the role of mediator officially by the Council or unofficially by other actors. The paper concludes with implications of the use of retrospective narratives and the underlying political nature of the research topic.

Kell, C. (2015). “Making people happen”: materiality and movement in meaning-making trajectories. Social Semiotics, 25(4), 423-445.

Lent 2017
Unless otherwise stated, all talks will be from 1-2pm.

Date & location Speaker Title and abstract
24th January 2017, County South B89 Emily Spiers and Robert Crawshaw, DELC, Lancaster University ‘Cultural Literacy and Social Futures one year on’

Following my introduction last year to the issues associated with defining ‘cultural literacy’, Emily and I will present the progress made to date by the ‘Cultural Literacy and Social Futures’ project (CLSF) which is currently the basis of a network grant bid to the AHRC.  In the terms of the project, ‘Cultural Literacy’ is only indirectly related to the notion of ‘literacy’ as it has become understood by the Lancastrian branch of ‘Literacy Studies’.  Nor should it be confused with Eric Hirsch’s notion of a prescriptive curriculum or ‘state of knowledge’ which, as Hirsch would have it, is a necessary qualification for claiming citizenship of a given national community.  Rather it designates a quasi- ethnographic capacity to ‘appreciate’ the culture of groups in society through the artefacts which they generate, in other words to go beyond the awareness of the form or the subjective emotional response to a given artistic output, as well as any preconception of what constitutes ‘high’ or ‘low’ culture, so as to position it within a wider frame of understanding or cultural context.  The development of such a capacity has different implications now and in the future for researchers on the one hand and for members of the public – citizens – on the other.  Our brief initial comment will seek to outline what those implications are and to explain how the CLSF project proposes to address them.

7th February 2017

Bowland North, Seminar room 19

Søren Nygaard Drejer Odense Academic writing in the transition between the Danish upper secondary school and university

Moving from one educational context to another can be challenging and even critical in regard to students’ writing, but it can also bring new opportunities (Christensen et al 2014, Sommers & Saltz 2004). My PhD-study is a case based longitudinal study favoring the students’ perspective as it examines which concrete developments and challenges in relation to writing can be observed in the transition between upper secondary school and university.   The focus is on three BA-students (Scandinavian Studies, Physics and Chemistry, respectively), their writing in their first year at university as well as their upper secondary school texts.  The central, empirical evidence consists of the students’ own texts. In addition, observations of lectures, talk-around-the-text based student interviews (Lillis 2008), and ministerial and local decrees are included.  I address their writing development and writers’ development during this transition.  At the core of the analyses stands Ivanič’ concept of writing identity (Ivanič  1998, Burgess & Ivanič  2010).

14th February 2017

County South B89

Leonie Gaiser and Yaron Matras

University of Manchester

LinguaSnapp: Pioneering a new method for Linguistic Landscapes – digital documentation

This presentation introduces the LinguaSnapp application, developed and released by the University of Manchester in 2015. LinguaSnapp is a mobile app that can be freely downloaded for both principal smartphone platforms (iOS and Android). It allows the user to take images of signs and encode their content with reference to languages and scripts, outlet, composition, semiotic-pragmatic function and content translation. Images are uploaded with their GPS-based location coordinates and time onto a server where they are searchable according to the full set of descriptors on an interactive map (http://www.linguasnapp.manchester.ac.uk). Drawing on a corpus of over 1000 images with analytical descriptors, collected with LinguaSnapp in 2016, we discuss three dimensions in the semiotic construction of space and networks of communication through LL: First, LL signals ownership of place: Somali, Bengali, Kurdish and Thai cluster densely in just a few streets. Hebrew and Chinese are used to explicitly identify place in contrast to neighbouring areas. Second, the spatial distribution of signs, and cross-referencing among them, creates contextual networks, identifying the position of the sign as part of a city-wide network. This is the case for event promotion and product information in languages like Persian and others. Finally, signage conveys residents’ active construction of a civic identity: languages are combined across community boundaries, on the one hand, while on the other, creative compositions may result in ambiguity of language choice, mirroring the permeability of language boundaries and residents’ holistic appreciation of their language repertoires. The latter especially may call into question, in some instances, the very notion of ‘languages’ as discrete entities, reinforcing the need to re-think categorisations in the complex reality of urban multilingualism.

21st  February 2017

County South B89

Candice Satchwell, UCLAN Stories to connect: using phygital artefacts to tell young people’s stories in the community

Abstract: Stories to Connect is an AHRC-funded project aiming to collect and tell stories from ‘disadvantaged’ children and young people. We have worked in a participatory paradigm to help young people collect stories from one another, and then to re-work the stories into fictionalised assemblages to reflect the themes emerging from the research. The stories will be told through phygital (physical-digital) artefacts co-designed with the young people and placed in community locations. My presentation considers the different literacies involved in both collecting and re-telling these stories, and the potential for ‘connecting’ people – in both educational and community settings – through digital means.



28th February 2017

County South B89

David Barton, Sharon McCulloch and Karin Tusting, for the Dynamics of Knowledge Creation project.

Lancaster University

Academics’ workplace writing: findings from 2 years of research

For the past 2 years, the Dynamics of Knowledge Creation project have been working closely with academics across disciplines and institutions to develop a better understanding of the variety of writing activities academics do in their workplaces, looking especially at how changes in the context of Higher Education influence those writing practices.  In this talk, we outline key findings from the project, particularly in relation to managerial practices, digital communication, and locating writing practices in time and space.  We will also touch on how screencapture of real-life writing practices have added extra layers to our understanding of the writing process.

14th March 2017

County South B89

Members of the Literacy Research Centre Fieldwork can be full of surprises: reflections on research projects and ‘real’ problems encountered. A series of short presentations

M.Hamilton, S.McCulloch, K.Tusting will discuss particular challenges which arose around introducing an innovative data collection method – screen recording of real life writing – and how they resolved these.  These challenges included technical constraints, logistical issues, and ethical concerns.

J.Gillen will talk about difficulties arising when trying to work with parents, as part of New Pedagogies, New Practices, New Purposes project about how out-of-school digital literacy practices cross the home-school boundary.

N. Alghamdi, H.Alruwaili and D.Potts will talk about the situated decision-making required in women-only settings in which male guardian’s must provide consent, faces are concealed, and missteps may have repercussions not only for the participant but for their extended family.

U.Papen will share her experience of using a video recorder to capture the lively discussions of 5 and 6 year old children in reading circles.

 21 March 2017

County South B89

 Pamela Olmos Authorial identities in pursuing a Doctorate

Many academics can produce successful texts in both English and another language. Studies, however, tend to focus only on moving one way, usually from another language to English, while in fact, many academics move back and forth between languages. My research main focus is to explore the writer’s expression of authorial identity in their academic writing and analyse how it evolves and is negotiated with their community. The research follows a case-study approach as it explores how multilingual writers negotiate their identities in their MA dissertations and PhD theses writing, and the ways in which their knowledge of the thesis genre develops over the time. I study five bilingual writers who have written academically in both English and Spanish. They are all native speakers of Spanish. In this talk I present preliminary findings on the choices made by writers, and their awareness of conventions of academic form.


Michaelmas term 2016

Date & Location Speaker(s) & Affiliation Title & Topic
11 October 2016, County South C89 Cathy Burnett &

Guy Merchant

Sheffield Hallam University

Enchanted literacies

Devising methodologies for investigating how meaning making emerges moment-by-moment in classroom encounters is certainly challenging, and in recent years a particular challenge arises when examining children’s meaning making using mobile devices such as tablets. One approach is through enabling, acknowledging and even cultivating a sense of ‘enchantment’ (Bennett, 2001). Bennett describes enchantment as a ‘mixed bodily state of joy and disturbance, a transitory sensuous condition dense and intense enough to stop you in your tracks and toss you onto new terrain and to move you from the actual world to its virtual possibilities’ (p.111). Using the idea of enchantment in literacy research evokes an uncertainty or unknowing that is an important counterpoint to the certainties that underpin the rigid autonomous accounts of literacy policy and ‘reform’.
Using empirical material from two classroom studies both of which explored children’s interactions with tablets, we explore the theme of enchantment, as we navigate the complex relationships and disjunctures between researchers and researched. We use multiple tellings – performed accounts and video re-presentation – to  evoke the ‘affective intensities’ that seemed significant to children’s meaning making, and to our own enquiries. These experiments in re-working empirical materials foreground multiplicity and complexity in meaning making, provoking the generous, ebullient and vivid accounts of literacy that are silenced by the dominant policy discourse. We argue that this perspective allows to engage with debates about the nature and potential of mobile literacies through highlighting those ‘aspects of experience and reality that do not present themselves in propositional or even in verbal form’.
The notion of enchantment offers ways of thinking about the here-and-now, the ephemeral and the incoherent, and invites us to acknowledge how we do not just observe but are with literacy practices in our research. This process unsettles and disrupts bounded notions of what counts in literacy and shifts attention from meanings made or to be made to focus on the processes of meaning making that transcend purpose or design.

25 October 2016, Country South B89 Niina Hynninen

University of Helsinki, Finland

Orientations to the quality of English in research writing: A comparison of three disciplines

Much of the research writing scholars do today is in English, the current lingua franca of academia. This need to write in English has stirred a lot of debate about the hardships faced particularly by non-native English speaking scholars. At the same time, it seems that disciplinary orientations to the quality of English vary, which raises the question: What actually counts as acceptable English in different disciplines? In this presentation, I address these issues from the perspective of, in particular, HCI/computer scientists, geologists and historians working in Finnish academia. I draw on research interviews collected as part of an on-going ethnographically informed study within the Language Regulation in Academia project at the University of Helsinki (see http://www.helsinki.fi/project/lara), and explore when and how the quality of English becomes a concern for the scholars, what the quality means for them, and in what ways they report to reach the described quality-level in their own writing.

1 November 2016, County South B89 Colin Mills

Institute of Education, University of Manchester

Marketing literacy/ies: consultants, knowledge exchange and primary school practice.

This seminar draws on recent work studying the careers and interplay with practice of eight consultants working at promoting resources, knowledge and pedagogy about literacy in primary schools.  Locating the study in education policy scholarship, yet also drawing on concepts from the sociology of knowledge and from literacy studies, I will discuss data and findings in a reflexive way, aiming to (i) discuss the potency of Bernstein’s tools for thinking in navigating new knowledge landscapes; (ii) make claims about consultants’ colonisation of spaces once vacated by the State (iii) connect consultancy to the commoditisation and economising of both school literacy and of policy, steering from these aspects of my work to  (iv) explore the potential of shared research ventures for literacy studies and education policy scholarship.

8 November 2016, County South B89 Katy Jones

Department of Education Research, Lancaster University

Literacy and numeracy support for homeless adults: An exploration of the support offered by third sector organisations supporting single homeless people to move into (or closer to) work

In this presentation, Katy will provide an overview of emerging findings from her doctoral research. The research is focused on the employment and skills support offered by organisations supporting homeless adults, and specifically, the role and nature of literacy and numeracy or ‘basic skills’ education offered as part of this. As paid work has increasingly been seen as an important ‘solution’ to homelessness, many specialist homelessness organisations now offer their clients employment and skills support. However, how this is shaped is not well understood. Moreover, whilst improving an individual’s literacy and numeracy skills has been consistently identified as an important part of tackling labour market disadvantage (whether understood in functionalist or social practice terms), it is unclear whether the value of this is recognised across the homelessness sector as they seek to support their clients into, or closer to, work. The research involved 27 semi-structured qualitative interviews with practitioners working across a range of organisations in the Greater Manchester homelessness sector.

22 November 2016, County South B89 Jessica Bradley

School of Education, University of Leeds

Co-production as transcreation? Mediating ecologies in visual arts and language research 

I draw from a co-produced, collaborative project for the Connected Communities ‘Utopias Festival 2016’ which built on my doctoral research with a community arts organisation. I explore how the mixing of ecologies – academic and community arts, linguistic and painting – led to new understandings of collaboration and knowledge around communicative practice.

6 December 2016, County South B89 Mike Baynham

School of Education, University of Leeds

Translanguaging? Code switching? Same difference?

Each theoretical construct can be understood as a tool for thinking with its own affordances: enabling some thoughts and disabling others. In this talk I will review translanguaging and code-switching as tools for thinking with, outlining my position on the relationship between these constructs. I will argue that there needs to be more analytic specificity in the way that translanguaging is often used, turning to a framework even older than code-switching, Jakobson’s well known translation typology, for inspiration. I will illustrate this talk with data from interpreter mediated literacy events collected as part of the TLANG project, which curiously enough is very similar to that which resulted in an early paper of mine: Code-switching and Mode-switching, Community Interpreters and Mediators of Literacy.