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LRDG meetings held in 2007
23 Jan - Mary Hamilton & Kathy Pitt, Lancaster University
Ways with Words? Innovation and creativity in academic writing
Can academic writing be both pleasurable and yet rigorous?
30 Jan - Roz Ivanic, Lancaster University
Redefining waste disposal: A study in the textual construction of compliance
Recent local initiatives have redefined 'waste management' as 'recycling',
and have co-opted everyone into a project of improving performance indicators
for the council and for the country. This project has generated a change
in discourse, and a mass of paper and associated literacy practices to
further burden household bureaucracy for us all.
6 Feb - Zoe Nikoulaidou, Lancaster University
Literacy and Power among Immigrants in Athens: Symbolic capital across domains
A two-week ethnographic research was carried out in the centre of Athens, in order to explore in which cases and for what reasons immigrants in Athens use literacy. Participant observation and a number of qualitative interviews revealed the great variety of literacy practices in the lives of fourteen immigrants. The presentation focuses on the various domains of life in which literacy is used.
Taking photographs of street signs in collaboration with my informants revealed what is called 'illiteracy of resistance', since most signs are bilingual or monolingual written in the mother tongue of the immigrants.
What follows is a discussion on dominant and vernacular literacy practices linked with Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic capital.
13 Feb - Ron Scollon, Georgetown University
Literacy: Connectors and Appliances, Routes and Itineraries
My interest in literacy has taken many forms. It began with thoughts and problems which arose in doing literacy work with people in Northern Canada and Alaska who were learning and using literacy for their languages for the first time – both the first time in their history as peoples and for the first time in their lives as individual humans. In many ways my current work has not been formed by the study of literacy in itself. Now the question is: What is literacy now within my current interests in action and its geosemiotic placement in time and space? These placements I have been calling ‘geographies of discourse’.
In this talk I will try to outline a general analytical framework concerning the multiple layering of any moment of action in time and space. In this framework literacy is one of the major material-semiotic connectors between objects (including humans) within a particular plane (or geography) but it is also a major appliance for producing transactions across these geographies. Thus in this view literacy is one of the main means by which routes for human action are laid down which enable our itineraries through the world.
15 Feb - Brian Street, King’s College, London
Epistemology, ontology and methodology: locating ethnographic perspectives
I will locate ethnography within the wider philosophical and methodological issues involved in all research activity. I present a model which sets out the elements that have to be taken into account in designing doing and reporting research, ranging from broad ontological and epistemological assumptions down to the specifics of data analysis and presentation and then locate ethnography within this model. I will also draw upon various ways of representing ‘ethnography’ from ‘The Turtle and the Fish’ to Del Hymes and describe how some of my own experiences as an anthropologist in literacy studies illustrate the issues raised in the title.
20 Feb - Jean Seraphin Kamdem, PhD Fellow, Dept. of Languages and Cultures of Africa, SOAS, Univ. of London
Investigating Functionality in Bilingual Adult Literacy Programmes:
This research is an investigation into the motivations for and expectations of attending literacy classes of adults in Kom, and into their acquisition of functional literacy skills. I am investigating literacy initially as skills and knowledge and sets of know-how’s, but I want also to look at adult literacy as learners perceive its social value. Literacy takes place with and through both human resources and material resources. Consequently, major domains of investigation of functionality are the didactic materials used in literacy classes and the pedagogic practices themselves. My research aims also to account for the psychological constructs that pre-define and influence the interaction of learners and literacy delivery as a pedagogic/learning process.
27 Feb - Kristin Lexander, Lancaster University
Language and Literacy Practices related to ICT of students in Dakar, Senegal
While French is the official and dominant written language in Senegal, the use of the new information and communication technologies (ICT or NICT) has brought with it multilingual literacy practices where African languages play an important role. I will present my ongoing PhD study of these practices, which make use of such texts as text-messages, e-mails and chat conversations. The aim is an understanding of the social functions of the practices and of how they can influence other literacy practices, in particular concerning language choice. Their multilingual nature makes them inclusive, compared to literacy in French, a language only a small part of the population understands. Perhaps these literacy practices may even contribute to a higher status for literacy in African languages.
13 Mar - Pat Mayes, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
The Institutionalization of a Critical Approach to Teaching Writing in One American University
In the US, institutions of higher education have the task of teaching literacy skills (and, in particular, writing) to all incoming students who are not assessed as “proficient.” As a result, most universities have well-developed writing programs which are either housed in English Departments or function as separate entities. These writing programs have developed a set of highly institutionalized practices for placing, teaching, assessing, and promoting students. In this talk, I will examine what happens when a “critical pedagogy” approach, which is supposed to foster the ideas and creativity of individual students, is implemented as a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the teaching of critical reading and writing. In order to show the mismatch between what might be thought of as the ideal critical pedagogy curriculum and the case I examined, I’ll present examples drawn from interviews with teachers, verbal interaction between teachers and students, and written assignments constructed by the teachers.
20 Mar - Argiris Archakis, University of Patras
Functional literacy in practice: the use of parliamentary and media discourse in a literacy educational framework
In this paper, we suggest that media discourse in general and newspaper articles on parliamentary discourse in particular are the ideal material for students to develop a critical awareness of why the texts around them are the way they are. Our data consist of Greek parliamentary proceedings and newspaper articles on parliamentary proceedings. We show that the representation of parliamentary discourse in the press is mostly constructed by journalists who ‘choose’ what happened and decide what readers should know about what happened. We suggest that this kind of analysis can be part of the educational methodology in a language-teaching program based on literacy practices. If the main educational goal in the modern world is the shaping of active citizens who could control their lives via discourse, the literacy of the students should not be non-critical and a-social. Along these lines, different tasks are proposed based on the comparison between parliamentary and media discourse.
21 Mar - ‘tope Omoniyi, Roehampton University
Alternative contexts of literacy development in Nigeria
We have witnessed a growth in the number of internet cafés, especially in metropolitan areas, but institutional recognition of the potential of computers and the world-wide-web to facilitate the delivery of literacy in particular, and educational development in general is slower in coming. To a large extent, the theory and practice of computer education still separate private and public providers of education and the former have a fairly elite clientele (see Omoniyi 1994, In press). The cybercafés are more or less informal social spaces where students go to ‘browse’ and meet up with real and virtual friends for ‘chats’, with education and literacy as lesser motive for internet café patronage. Within the framework of ‘linguistics applied’, I shall discuss the ways in which the world-wide-web potentially challenges the traditional boundaries set by school curricula and therefore challenge classroom teachers at the point of delivery. I shall present a critical assessment of texting and browsing as ‘web literacy’ practices (Hawisher and Selfe, 2000) and argue that teacher training curricula need to address this aspect of social development in order that they can adequately support their clientele.
1 May - A Workshop led by Amy Burgess and Roz Ivanic
What do we mean by 'functional'?
The term 'functional' is used to describe 'literacy', 'skills', people, theories and more. Its meanings range from relatively positive ones: 'functional' meaning 'to get something done' as opposed to 'for its own sake', to negative ones: 'functional' as opposed to 'socially situated', creative, or critical. Educators might want to ask whether the kinds of literacy they teach are 'functional' in the sense of fit for purpose - which begs the question whose purposes are we talking about? In this workshop we will provide a space for discussion of these issues, and of others you might want to raise.
8 May - David Barton, Lancaster University
What’s the new in New Literacy Studies?
As the New Labour dynasty winds down, what is the point of the epithet “New” in New Literacy Studies? Has Literacy Studies completed its project of renewal? What new work is there to do? And in what ways are contemporary literacies and contemporary technologies new?
David Barton will introduce a lively discussion based upon nine new books brought back from recent conferences.
15 May - Anita Wilson, Lancaster University
Reading the Signs: Institutional Interpretations of Bodily Text in a Culture of Risk, Blame and Accountability
While considerable emphasis is (quite rightly) placed on keeping a record
of incidences of suicide and self-harm in prison, the secret and enclosed
nature of incarceration does not lend itself to the recognition of the
number of prisoners who are saved from serious injury by the daily interventions
of prison staff. Furthermore, while generic Prison Service training includes
stringent protocols for dealing with completed suicide and serious self-harm,
the day to day assessment of prisoners' vulnerabilities falls within the
catch-all task of 'being a prison officer', both supported and hindered
by mounds of institutional paperwork.
22 May - Lucas Introna, Niall Hayes and Anja Timm, Lancaster University
International students, academic literacy and plagiarism detection systems
n this seminar we will report some of our work on international students and academic writing with specific reference to plagiarism detection systems. The challenge of academic writing for a non-native student with no or very limited experience in academic writing (even in their native language) is very significant. One of the strategies used by international students to cope with these challenges is a practice called ‘patch-writing.’ We will try to show how students engaging in patch-writing practices become constructed by plagiarism detection systems as ‘plagiarists.’ We will suggest that plagiarism detection systems not only discriminate against international students but are also an inappropriate institutional response for dealing with problems of academic writing (and literacy more generally).
29 May - Rachel Hodge and Yvon Appleby, Lancaster University
Looking at adult learners: situated lives, situated methodologies
In this session we will explore some methodological and ethical issues from our recent work on researching adult learners' lives. From a social practice perspective we recognise that people in our research are agents, situated within different contexts in their lives and identities. As researchers we also become situated within some of these contexts but with different identities and for different purposes. We will discuss ways of working which explore some of the tensions and ethical issues that arise from literacy research that focusses on the situatedness of everyday practices and experiences.
12 June - Uta Papen, Lancaster University
Pregnancy starts with a literacy event - an auto-ethnography
Autoethnography has recently become a popular form of research, in particular in health studies. In this session, I will explore the potential of autoethnography for literacy research. Using as an example my own experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, I will suggest that pregnancy and ante-natal care can be described as ‘textually-mediated cultural worlds’. Autoethnography allowed me to explore in depth how my own literacy practices were culturally and biographically situated. It brought out the affective side of literacy and led me to challenge the ‘rational actor model of social performance’ (Ellis and Bochner 2003: 217) that informs much research and policy in the area of health and literacy.
19 June - Graham Mort, Lancaster University
The Radiophonics Project
This presentation will trace the development of a new creative writing project in Africa that links writing for radio to agendas of social inclusion, democracy and free speech. A partnership between the British Council and Lancaster University, the project has its provenance in the earlier Crossing Borders mentoring scheme and develops its use of information technology into a new dimension. Using photographs and excerpts from the Under the Sun series broadcast on Sanyu FM, Kampala, the presentation will discuss the form and content of the broadcasts in relation to the literary, political and social conditions that prevail in Uganda at the present time and the issues faced by external agencies in promoting social awareness through the commission of new writing and broadcasts.
26 June - Vicky Duckworth, Oldham College
The journey from basic skills learner to published writer
he presentation will be based on the 'journey' of a writer who has recently
had her work published as an Easy Read Inspirational story. The
process of unlocking creative potential both in and out of the classroom
will be explored.
16 Oct - Julia Gillen
The discourses of a virtual island: the Schome-NAGTY 'Teen Second Life' project
This presentation will introduce my investigations into the discourses
within and around a Teen Second Life educational pilot. I will explain
the nature of the 'virtual world' of Second Life and the Schome (not school,
not home) project based at the Open University.
23 Oct - Lee James Tipton, Lancaster University
Exploring Textually Mediated Institutional Space: Gate keeping, Docility, Ceremonies and Signs
Most, if not all of us, at some point on a daily basis interact with a multiplicity of texts within what is commonly considered an institution or organisation. Many of these texts are generated to serve specific institutional purposes and functions and are considered by many of the institutional members as harmless, benign, power-less pieces of bureaucracy. This interaction will often commence with an encounter with some form of gate keeping institutional text that controls and directs our movements within and out of institutional space and place. The institution will usually demand that we make a mark, a sign somewhere, participate in various textual ceremonies and accept and perform the role of an institutional member whether that be a lecturer, patient, prisoner or employee. This presentation will share data and texts harvested from a hostel for offenders or ‘approved premise’ and consider the signs and ceremonies encountered, the role such ‘official’ text play in mediating institutional space and generating and sustaining a sense of institutional place.
30 October 2007 - Mark Sebba, Lancaster University
Orthography as social practice: spelling and the new literacy studies
In this talk I outline parts of my theory of the sociolinguistics of orthography, which is embedded in a theory of literacy. The key points are:
(1) It is possible to identify 'autonomous' and 'sociocultural' (a.k.a.
'ideological') models of orthography, with the autonomous model having
had almost complete dominance in 20th century linguistics.
6 November 2007 - David Barton, Lancaster University
Writing on Web2: Multilingual uses of Flickr and the development of new vernacular practices
Web2 spaces such as social networking sites, photo sharing sites, blogs and wikis offer many new possibilities for writing. I am interested in what is new about writing in virtual spaces: how they are new forms of writing emergent from existing forms; how they lead to new text types; and how the new practices constitute strong vernacular literacies.
In this paper I will examine the photo sharing site Flickr and particularly
multilingual activity. I will provide extensive examples investigating
the ways in which people create new multilingual identities, combining
languages in different ways and interacting with different audiences.
13 November 2007 - Anita Wilson, Lancaster University
'You want to know about literacy? Then look, listen, and think about something else' : Alternative approaches, (in)appropriate methods and unexpected outcomes in ethnographic research
In a recent AHRC-funded project, the remit was to investigate the way that young prisoners 'made their mark' on prison space. Using the broad conceptualisation of 'literacies' as a lens, it became very apparent that 'reading' often involved the interpretation of texts in the widest sense, such as in the visual analysis of bodily marks and postures. 'Writing' was often about technology, such as when toothpaste or shower gel was used to inscribe an air of freshness onto a prison cell. These often highly-personalised practices were subsequently interlinked with a set of photographic images which themselves became a new set of texts, ripe for (re)interpretation and reflection. The combination of close ethnography, a broad view of literacies, and a retrospective analysis of the photographs, opens up fresh insights into the sensory complexities of communicative practice and reveals additional layers of meaning as to what might count as text.
20 November 2007 - Karin Tusting, Lancaster University
“I am not a ‘good’ teacher; I don’t do all their paperwork.”: Teachers’ resistance to changing accountability demands
The implementation of the Skills for Life strategy introduced a new system for adult language, literacy and numeracy education, with a more centralised curriculum and testing regime. This was perceived by many teachers as a challenge to their established learner-centred approach. Teacher interviews from the Adult Learners' Lives project have been re-analysed to see what they can tell us about these teachers’ experiences of the introduction of new national accountability systems. The re-analysis offers a snapshot of the challenges teachers faced with the introduction of the new system, and the strategies they developed to deal with these challenges. More importantly, perhaps, I will present an analysis of these interviews which explains why such changes were often experienced as difficulties, in terms of competing discourses of what it is to be a ‘good’ teacher, which has resonances beyond the specifics of this particular situation.
I have recently begun a new project, 'Paperwork and pressure in educational settings: the textual mediation of target culture', which explores similar issues in more depth, and would be particularly interested in discussing with the group the implications of this work for the new research.
27 November 2007 - Irving Finkel, British Museum
What Happens to Diaries?
The speaker has a plot to rescue manuscript diaries. This talk will be
delivered fast, cover a wide range of assorted ideas
4 December 2007
Two research studies from Spain
Being a “Good” Second Language Learner: A Critical Sociolinguistic Ethnography in Madrid and Zhejiang Schools
Miguel Pérez Milans, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain)
This talk focuses on how second language competence is institutionally constructed in relation to different socio-political conditions linked to globalization in urban areas. The study comes from an ethnography carried out in Madrid (Spain) and Zhejiang (China). This presentation uses interactional, ethnographic and discursive data to link legitimated classroom practices in both institutional contexts to their historical and socio-political conditions. Analysis will pay attention particularly to the role of the literacy practices through classroom interaction.
Cristina Aliagas Marin, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain)
This presentation will focus on how the lack of interest in reading is socially constructed in adolescence and how reading identities change because of environmental influences and personal development. The aim of this research lies in characterizing the reading practices in the lifestyle of urban teenagers in Catalonia who label themselves and are labeled by others as non- or poor readers. I will present data from a case study of an adolescent, stressing some of the vernacular reading practices he has developed for replacing the dominant ones at school.
11 December 2007
Cultural Articulations of the North: Carers Cruising Cumbria and Meals on The Mile
Sondra Cuban and Corinne Fowler, Lancaster University
We examine two distinctive northwest representations --- Manchester (Rusholme Road where the story the Curry Mile takes place) and south central Cumbria. We examine technologies and how they mediate experiences---in this case, the second-hand cars that carers drive in Cumbria to visit the elderly in their homes and in Rusholme, the technology is curry that both third generation restaurant entrepreneurs and first generation migrant workers embrace. Both old cars and curry are products of late capitalism and colonization and connect to myriad other global and local signifiers, including literacies and languages.
Powerpoint presentation ('Read Only') - File size 5MB
LRDG Meeting Record
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