Academic year 2022-23.

Current Organisers: Uta Papen u.papen@lancaster.ac.uk, Karin Tusting k.tusting@lancaster.ac.uk

Hello and welcome back to the Literacy Research Centre Discussion Group. Please see below for the timetable for upcoming talks. updates will be circulated via the LRDG mailing list.

11th November

2 pm – 3 pm

Online using Teams, Click here to join the meeting

Ibrar Bhatt and Heng Wang, Queens University Belfast (UK) Everyday heritaging: Sino-Muslim heritage literacy adaptation and loss

What we in this presentation describe as practices of “Sino-Muslim heritage literacy” have existed in China for as long as there have been Muslims in the region (since the 7th century according to the best evidence). The community’s religious and heritage literacy practices have historically incorporated an Arabic representation of Chinese, systems of Chinese characters representing Arabic pronunciation, and more contemporary digitalised manifestations of heritage literacy in everyday life. Using a social practice approach to literacy, this presentation reports on the initial round of data collection for a research project (see Bhatt & Wang 2022), funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which examines Sino-Muslim heritage literacy in modern China. Findings emerge from multi-generational interviews, artefact collection, and ethnographic observations with a cross section of Sino-Muslims across different provinces in China, with a particular focus on Xi’an (Shaanxi Province) for this LRC session. We explore how heritage literacy practices maintain a presence in Sino-Muslim life through traditional systems of community and religious education and contemporary social and material networks. We discuss what these empirical cases reveal about literacies in Sino-Muslim religious life, with respect to how heritage is adapted or diminished across generations. We also argue that it is crucial to situate Sino-Muslim heritage literacy in spaces beyond rigid and state-defined ethnic and religious discourses which tend to confine the identity of Sino-Muslims into officially designated categories. Doing so, we contend, has useful theoretical and methodological import, and can shed light on inquiry about heritage literacy in other minority settings.

Bhatt, I. & Wang, H. (2022) ‘Everyday heritaging: Sino-Muslim literacy adaptation and alienation’, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2022-0058

18th November

1 pm – 2 pm

Online: link to Teams meeting

Cheryl McLean, Rutgers university, New Jersey Screens, Texts, and Children: Literacy Through a Caribbean Lens 

What does it mean to be a modern reader? In this presentation, I consider intersecting issues around how reading and meaning-making processes look and shift across local and global spaces and contexts. Drawing on qualitative data, I trace the nuanced ways in which Anglophone Caribbean children use digital and multimodal texts to navigate their academic, social, and cultural identities.

9th December, hybrid session – online and in person

2 pm – 3 pm

B89 County South, or join Katy Highet’s talk here to participate online

Katy Highet, University of the West of Scotland English speakerhood, personality development and social mobility in India
It is often taken for granted in India that English is a key tool for social mobility. More recently, however, private language schools and coaching centres are recognising the limits of language skills and are widening their scope to provide students with what is often termed ‘personality development’. In this presentation, I will demonstrate how young, marginalised adults in an English and employability training programme in Delhi orient themselves towards English speakerhood, an exercise that requires work not only on one’s language but also one’s ‘personality’. Situating this turn to ‘personality development’ within recent shifts in India’s political economy, I ask what this tells us about competing theories of social mobility and social change.
20th January

1 pm – 2 pm

B89 County South, or online via Link to Lucy Taylor’s talk

Lucy Taylor, University of Leeds Children reading and writing: This talk will explore the links between the texts children read and those they write, with a particular focus on multimodal writing. Some children’s writing will be used as examples and linguistic theories about narration and world-building will be discussed as ways to frame understandings of reading-writing relationships.
10th March


B89 County South,

Link to Teams for online participants

Lucy Henning, Open University Reading, writing and learning in school: exploring young children’s perspectives through ethnographically principled participatory research

In this presentation I explore some of the data from a long-term participatory ethnography of literacy with a class (age 4 – 5 when the project began) of children in a London Primary school. The project began in 2021, when I was not allowed to visit the school due to the then COVID-19 restrictions. This meant that the children and teachers have taken responsibility for data collection from the early stages of the project, decentring the importance of the researcher. As the project unfolds, a tangle of literacies and literacy practices are emerging. In this presentation I begin to explore the potential significance of these.

19th May (rearranged from 12th May), 1pm

C89 County South

Use this link to join Ursula Howard’s talk

Ursula Howard The uses of literacy in history: unearthing the unexpected

Drawing on her recent book* about a working-class Irish family in 19th century Scotland, Ursula Howard will explore how multiple literacies and oral cultures have informed official and social literacies – historically and in the present. How have these practices affected research and writing about lived experience and power relations?  Secondly, how can a creative interplay between facts, written evidence and historical imagination bring to life people who left no trace of their literacy practices, and enrich our understanding of voiceless people and challenge the oversimplification of their experience?

 * Bessie Quinn: Survivor Spirit: From Galashiels Mills to Garden Cities. The story of an Irish family in Scotland: 1845-1919

23rd June


County South C89

Click here to join Laura Eisner’s talk

Laura Eisner, Universidad Nacional de Río Negro Tracing textual trajectories of study materials in secondary schools: issues of power, legitimacy and teacher-student agency

Drawing on results from sociolinguistic research in an adult secondary school in Argentina, this presentation explores how teachers and students deal with texts originated in academic or professional contexts which are brought into the classroom, “carrying with them” traces of legitimized social voices and discourses of authority. I will consider the potential of a situated approach to literacy artifacts, tracking text transformations across genres and semiotic modes as they are recontextualized within specific literacy events: how can tracing text trajectories provide an insight into the ways linguistic inequalities are negotiated in everyday school life and how we can spot spaces for agency in that process?

Previous year’s discussion group schedules