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Seminar Series - The Politics of Representation: Constructing Public Narratives of Literacy through Image, Number & Voice

Date: 9 May 2012 Time: 12.30 - 2.00 p.m.

Venue: FASS MR1 (formerly IAS MR1)

Professor Mary Hamilton

Department of Educational Research and Literacy Research Centre, Lancaster University

The Politics of Representation: Constructing Public Narratives of Literacy through Image, Number & Voice

In this presentation I will draw on material from my new book to talk about literacy and the politics of representation. I will discuss the ways in which the semiotic resources of metaphor, visual images, number and testimonial narratives are combined to produce powerful imaginaries that circulate widely in the media, government and popular discourse. These are used to advocate for and justify policy interventions into citizens' lives, linking local concerns with global agendas for literacy. I will argue that, paradoxically, these public narratives reinforce deficit views of those they define as in need of help and obscure the powerful co-ordinating role of literacy in the relations of ruling.

Dr Mary Hamilton is Professor of Adult Learning and Literacy at Lancaster University, co-director of the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning and Associate Director of Lancaster Literacy Research Centre. She has written extensively on policy, practice and everyday learning in adult literacy. She is co-author of a number of books including Local Literacies (with David Barton); Powerful Literacies (with Jim Crowther and Lynn Tett) and Changing Faces of Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy: A Critical History (with Yvonne Hillier).

Her book Literacy and the Politics of Representation will be published in June 2012 by Routledge.

Contact details: Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YD. Email: Phone: 01524 592679/592861


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education, Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language


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