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Literacy Research Discussion Group (LRDG)

Co-organisers: Julia Gillen and Ami Sato

Unless stated otherwise below, meetings are held every Tuesday during term time, 1.00 - 2.00 pm.

View all forthcoming events for the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre





27 January 2015

C89, County South

Discussion chaired by Julia Gillen
How do I:  Get my first paper published?  Apply for a research grant?

In this supportive discussion we will share expertise on getting published and writing successful research grant applications in the broad field of Literacy Studies.  Everyone is welcome to attend, whatever their level of experience.  During the discussion there will be an opportunity to ask questions anonymously, and questions can also be submitted in advance by emailing Julia  ( 

3 February 2015


no meeting

10 February 2015

C89, County South

Joanne Thistlethwaite, Lancaster University

The use of Irish in the Linguistic Landscape (LL) of Ennis
This talk investigates the extent to which the Irish language is displayed on the Linguistic Landscape (LL) of Ennis, a west-coast town in the Republic of Ireland.
Irish is the first official and national language, yet only a small minority of the people in Ireland speak it as a first language (<5%).  As such, Irish appears by law, often alongside English, on most official signs. I analyse the conventions apparently guiding the inclusion of Irish on signs; in terms of its visual arrangement and linguistic characteristics as well as its interaction with any English language units.
I go on to link these ‘conventions’ with interview data from the individual sign ‘owners’ using an overarching nexus analysis approach (Scollon and Wong-Scollon, 2004).. Ultimately, I conclude that the relative lack of Irish on the ‘private’ LL can be viewed as the product of a complex of ideologies leading to, and also perhaps enabling, the ‘passive exclusion’ of Irish, (via social inaction) among (L1) English-speaking Irish society. This social inaction on the ‘private’ LL reveals the media/government/revivalist discourses, which predict the imminent return of a bilingual Ireland, to be highly unrealistic.

17 February 2015

B89, County South

Julia Gillen, Lancaster University
Yellow umbrellas– recontextualisation in multimodal literacy practices of the Hong Kong student protests of November 2014.

The convergence of student protests and the Occupy movement in Hong Kong has brought about an extraordinary flowering of “literacy as design” (Kress, 2003).  Students demanding greater democracy occupied three areas of central Hong Kong. On 28th September police attacked protesters with tear gas; umbrellas were one of the defensive measures used and the yellow umbrella became the chief emblem of the movement.  The Umbrella Movement evolved into an extraordinary three-sited flourishing of multimodal artefacts that simultaneously embed the criticality, multimodality and design characteristic of multiliteracies (Lankshear and Knobel, 2007; Gillen and Passey 2011).

I visited two of the Umbrella Revolution sites in the first week of November, 2014 taking photographs, collecting media, and talking with protesters and others with a variety of viewpoints.  I have been assisted by students from Hong Kong in identifying an immense reach of cultural references.  I will focus on three multimodal artefacts: a yellow umbrella, a sculpture of a tank and a map. Each demonstrates criticality in the present and imagination in design that simultaneously elicits knowledge from “readers” of salient recontextualisations from past decades and even centuries.   Our analyses demonstrate wonderful instances of “transformed practice, in which pupils, as meaning-makers, become designers of social futures” (Cope and Kalantzis, 2000: 7).

Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (eds) (2000) Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures.  London: Macmillan.
Gillen, J. & Passey, D. (2011) Digital literacies in the making: schools producing news with the BBC. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy 1-2 37-51.
Kress, G. (2003) Literacy in the New Media Age.  London: Routledge.
Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2007) A New Literacies Sampler. New York: Peter Lang.

24 February 2015

C89, County South

James Taylor, Department of History, Lancaster University
Researching the reception of advertising in early twentieth-century Britain
I am a historian interested in researching the reception of advertising in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century. This informal presentation discusses available sources, including Mass Observation reports, novels, and adverts designed by members of the public for newspaper competitions and school projects. And it asks for input both on possible methodologies and on the viability of such a research project.

3 March 2015

C89, County South


10 March 2015

C89, County South

Diane Potts, Lancaster University
Changing practices, changing perceptions: EAL students’ response to multimodal feedback
Within the field of second language writing, the impact of digital technologies on feedback is largely confined to discussions of mode: the traditional categories of written feedback and face-to-face writing conferences have been expanded to include online feedback provided by peers and tutors in synchronous and asynchronous environments. However, the impact of digital annotation tools on teachers’ feedback practices is far less researched. Nor are there any significant inquiries into EAL students’ perceptions of changing feedback practices, including changes in the range of semiotic resources (ex. audio, color, graphics) teachers employ.  Using data collected by a TEFL Masters student, I explore student responses to feedback as multimodal ensemble. Data for the study includes text analysis, student interviews, and guided reflections. While students commented on increased clarity and comprehensibility, some of the most interesting findings pertain to affect and shifts in construed interpersonal relations. These were almost entirely linked to prosody, which appeared to enhance the students’ sense of alignment between their interests and the interests of the tutor. I close by discussing the unique dynamics of the supervisor-student relations when a student sets out to research their supervisor’s/my practices.

17 March 2015

C89, County South

Virginie Thériault,  Lancaster University
Discussion of Lamarre’s article (2014) ‘Bilingual winks and bilingual wordplay in Montreal's linguistic landscape’
In Québec, legislation regulates the language of public and commercial signage. As intended, this has transformed the linguistic landscape (LL) of Montreal, which looks more French than just three decades ago. But if we stop looking and actually listen to the city’s soundscape, what is clear is that Montreal is a much more bilingual and multilingual city with a population increasingly able to read signs both in English and in French. Interestingly, in the Montreal LL can be found a number of commercial signs that are nothing less than wry “bilingual winks” that circumvent legislation, sometimes with quite wicked skill, and play with French and English. These bilingual winks are clearly intended for a population with the language skills to catch the wink and can be interpreted as manifestations of the increasing number of complex language repertoires, but also of a bilingual aesthetic that revels in disrupting and claiming space. It would also seem, however, that while a certain amount of covert bilingual creativity has been inspired by the legal constraints imposed in Québec, bilingual wordplay has simply found ways of creeping into the LL, despite the politics of language and legislation.
Contact Cael Rooney for a copy of the paper or visit C06, County South.











LRDG Meeting Record

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