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Home > Literacy Research Discussion group > LRDG meetings held in 2015-16

Literacy Research Discussion Group (LRDG)

Co-organisers: Uta Papen and Ibrar Bhatt.

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

Here is the timetable for meetings of the Literacy Research Discussion Group.


Michalmas 2016

11 October 2016, Departmental Talk, County South C89

Cathy Burnett and Guy Merchant, Sheffield Hallam University
Enchanted literacies: close encounters with iPads?

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’ (Bennett, 2001, 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’ (Hollet and Ehret, 2014) 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’ (Sedgwick, 2003, p.6).

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.

Bennett , J. (2001) The enchantment of modern life: Attachments, crossings and ethics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Hollett, T. & Ehret, C (2014). Bean’s World: (Mine)crafting affective atmospheres for gameplay, learning, and care in a children's hospital. New Media and Society.  Doi 1461444814535192.
Sedgewick, E. (2003). Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Peformativity. London. Duke University Press.


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 (e.g. Lillis & Curry 2006; Flowerdew 2008). At the same time, it seems that disciplinary orientations to the quality of English vary (e.g. Gnutzmann & Rabe 2014), 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, 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. The findings are expected to increase our understanding of how English and its regulation are conceptualised in different disciplines.

Flowerdew, J. 2008. Scholarly writers who use English as an additional language: What can Goffman’s “stigma” tell us? Journal of English for Academic Purposes 7. 77–86.
Gnutzmann, C. & F. Rabe. 2014. “Theoretical subtleties” or “text modules”? German researchers’ language demands and attitudes across disciplinary cultures. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 13. 31–40. [Special issue: Writing for publication in multilingual contexts, ed. by Maria Kuteeva and Anna Mauranen.]
Lillis, T. & M. J. Curry. 2006. Professional academic writing by multilingual scholars. Interactions with literacy brokers in the production of English-medium texts. Written Communication 23 (1). 3–35.


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 November2016, 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. Interviews were used to investigate both the emphasis placed on, and the nature of, literacy and numeracy education within the employment and skills support they offer, and the mechanisms through which this is shaped

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.


13th December 2016, County South B89

Intertextuality in mathematics classrooms. Richard Barwell, University of Ottawa

Learning and teaching mathematics involves intertextuality – it is more or less impossible to learn mathematics without recourse to diagrams, symbols and talk. But how is this intertextuality organised? And what does it do? In this presentation, I take up these questions, drawing on ethnographic data from a study of second language mathematics classrooms conducted in Canada, including English- and French-medium classrooms, and involving students of indigenous and immigrant heritage. Students worked with a variety of texts, including worksheets, textbooks, their own notes, and the blackboard, which are interpreted through talk with the teacher, with the researcher, or with each other. My analysis draws on Bakhtin’s theory of language, including his notion of centripetal and centrifugal language forces, dialogue and otherness in language. I will show, among other things, how intertextuality in mathematics classrooms involves coming to terms with various forms of authoritative discourse.

As this is the last meeting before the end of term, Christmas festive snacks will be provided.


LRDG Meeting Record

Current Timetable


2016 : 2015 : 2014
2013 : 2012 : 2011
2010 : 2009 : 2008
2007 : 2006 : 2005
2004 : 2003 : 2002
2001 : 2000

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