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David Hanauer, "A genre analysis of representational wall space in a microbiology laboratory"

Date: 14 February 2012 Time: 1.00-2.00 pm

Venue: C89 County South

14 February 2012

Literacy Research Discussion Group

A Genre Analysis of Representational Wall Space in a Microbiology Laboratory

Dr. David I. Hanauer, English Department, Indiana University of Pennsylvania & Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

The current study explores the linguistic landscape of a professional microbiology laboratory and can be seen as continuing previous research within the context of multimodal semiotics in the science classroom (Hanauer, 2006; Kress et al, 2001; Lemke, 1998). This specific study was part of a broader research project that dealt with the role of multiliteracies in biological scientific inquiry and aimed to explicate the interrelationship of representational resources and scientific activity (Hanauer, 2006; Hanauer, et al, 2006; Hanauer, Hatfull, Jacobs-Sera, 2009). The aim of this study is to explore from a multi-genre perspective the functional, procedural and structural components of wall space within a professional microbiology laboratory. The following specific research question was asked:

What are the functions of representational wall space within a professional microbiological laboratory?

The overall research design consisted of a multimodal, qualitative genre approach (Hanauer, 2006). Over a three month period extensive and comprehensive digital photography and field notes were collected of all the visual and verbal representations functional within the laboratory wall space. In addition laboratory members were interviewed concerning their understandings and usages of wall space representations. Following data collection all wall space representations were analysed as forms of genres and the unique form-function relations that were part of a consistent usage of the literacy artifact by different members of the laboratory were defined. A consideration of the different genres found within the wall space of the different laboratory areas suggests that wall space is used for two specific functions: 1) Facilitating a flow of knowledge throughout the laboratory; 2) Enhancing the procedural aspects of conducting scientific inquiry. During the lecture, each of the genres found and their roles within a functioning microbiological laboratory will be discussed.

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Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
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