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LRDG meetings held in 2009
13 January 2009
Hidden dialogicality: the past and present in Soviet/Russian teacher training text-books
The presentation will outline the process and findings of the documentary analysis of the teacher training textbooks which were published in Russia before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The presentation will open a debate about how historical change is represented in official teaching materials which mediate important pedagogic messages to teacher-trainees.
3 February 2009
Members of the centre introduced new ideas from interesting conferences they had participated in recently. Julia Gillen outlined the Space-Interaction-Discourse conference in Aalborg, Denmark and David Barton reported back on the Linguistic Landscape conference held in Siena, Italy.
24 February 2009
Remembering Ron Scollon
Ron Scollon, the noted linguist who worked in discourse, literacy studies, child language, intercultural communication and other areas, died earlier this year. Many of us knew him or have been influenced by his work. To remember his work and his life, in this session various people, including David Barton, Julia Gillen, Mary Hamilton and Ruth Wodak will talk about how Ron’s work influenced them.
10 March 2009
‘Dyslexia, digitality and deconstruction’
Charlie Gere, Institute for Cultural Research, Lancaster University
A couple of years ago my wife and I had our suspicions confirmed when our daughter was diagnosed as dyslexic. As with many children so diagnosed her verbal reasoning was far, far in advance of her reading and writing levels, which were in turn, far behind those of many of her age group. Though concerned for her I also found the question of dyslexia extremely interesting, especially in relation to some other areas of interest of mine, in particularly derridean deconstruction and the transformations being brought about in how we read and write in a digital age.
In this talk I discuss some of the connections between these topics.
21 April 2009 A DIGITAL METHODOLOGIES seminar
Using Mobile Phones for Field Research
Paul Coulton, Dept of Communication Systems, Lancaster University
With over 4 billion mobile phones subscribers in the world they are undoubtedly the most important piece of consumer technology and are supporting an ever increasing range of activities. Further, as the current generation of mobile phones are capable of recording users' interaction through, text, image, video, and voice and when coupled with internal or external sensors they are capable of providing researchers with new methods of capturing, extracting, and synchronizing aspects of human activity . In this talk I will provide examples of the increasing range of possibilities where mobile phones can be used to support research in real world scenarios.
28 April 2009 EXTENDED MEETING 1-3pm
The Performativity of Writing in a Public Space: An Ethnography of Paris Subway Signage
Jérôme Denis and David Pontille
This presentation will address general questions about public writing and action in urban places. The case of subway signage is particularly relevant to examine the ways signs equip the environment and to emphasize a particular undocumented aspect: the ways graphical devices are endowed to organize order in a public space. First, we will assume that signage performs a ‘graphical accountability’ that frames riders’ actions. To support this assumption, we will show that signage is made of ‘scripts’ that inscribe users attitudes within writing artefacts. But signage components are more or less fragile: signs get dirty, worn, they can be damaged or stolen, etc. Second, we will show how their presence requires different tasks of repair and maintenance. Largely invisible, these activities are crucial to the construction of graphical environments. By studying them, we can investigate the relation between visuality and materiality in a new manner, and address theoretical issues about the performativity of writing.
Jérôme Denis is a sociologist in TELECOM ParisTech, France.
David Pontille is a sociologist, researcher at the CNRS/EHESS, France.
Since 2006, both authors have been working together on graphical ecologies within urban spaces. They also have a photo-blog with their colleague Philippe Artières : http://scriptopolis.wordpress.com
This talk is part of the Alliance Franco-British Research Partnership Programme.
5 May 2009
Spiralling through Change: Literacies and Technologies across the Lifespan
Mary Hamilton (Lancaster University Literacy Research Centre)
Rita Gerrard, Margaret Marsden, Irena Pritchard, Angela Robertson, Jill Robinson, Janet Ross-Mills and Brenda Willis ( Lancaster DCE Senior Learners' Forum)
This paper reports on a collaborative research study among a small group of older adults documenting everyday communication practices in an era that has seen a move from the "old" technology of the printed word to new digital technologies. The aim of the project is to challenge media discourses that present older adults as outsiders to the new digital landscape as compared with "native" younger generations. The framework is that of the new literacy studies and the case study builds on existing surveys of older adults' and changing communication technologies.
The interview and enquiry process developed over a year of group and individual meetings within which we identified the following key questions:
Why and how do older people use communications technologies?
How do these uses change across the lifespan?
How do older people make choices to use new technologies or not?
How do they learn to use them?
Do new communication technologies increase isolation or do they increase social contact for older people?
We found that people engaged with new technologies in many different domains of social activity ranging from local political participation to internet shopping. People learned about technologies both formally and informally and through intergenerational and cross cultural exchanges. Factors that affect the take up of technologies for communication include fear and trust; and physical factures in the everyday environment and of people themselves.
12 May 2009
Literacy Landmarks: Seven Historical Programs that Helped Shape (and
Allan Quigley, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia
The field of adult literacy has far more history than memory. Despite almost two hundred years of organized adult schools, programs, campaigns, and social movements, the rich history of the literacy field is still largely undocumented in the English-speaking world. As a result, little is known about past successes and failures in the adult literacy movement. Beginning with the Bristol Schools of 1812, the talk will take us on a tour of literacy landmarks found in South Carolina, Kentucky, Chicago, the frontiers of Canada, the villages of Atlantic Canada, and continents from South America to Africa. He will discuss what can be learned for 21 st century policy and practice from these seven significant literacy landmarks.
26 May 2009
Playing X-factor in the literacy classroom: on the prospects and problems of discourse genre interpenetration
Adam Lefstein and Julia Snell, Department of Learning Curriculum & Communication Institute of Education, University of London
The phenomenon whereby school-based discourse genres inter-mix with everyday and popular culture genres has received considerable attention in educational research. This has been referred to as discourse genre "heterogeneity", "lamination", "third spaces", "hybridity" and "weaving".
Numerous advantages have been attributed to such discourse genre interpenetration: for learning, equity, interactional change, and the transformation of power relations and what counts as knowledge.
However, "discourse genre" is a rather fuzzy concept, encompassing a broad range of linguistic, compositional, social and contextual features, and little work has been done on the different ways in which these dimensions interact when discourse genres are brought together.
Similarly, do all the alleged advantages accrue in all the different forms of discourse genre interpenetration? In this session we will examine these issues through detailed analysis of a Year 5 literacy lesson in which "X-factor" was brought into a class discussion of pupil writing. This work in progress is part of the ESRC-funded "Towards Dialogue: A Linguistic Ethnographic Study of Classroom Interaction and Change" study.
2 June 2009
A DIGITAL METHODOLOGIES seminar
Online ethnography: using screen-based observation in Web 2 research
Jannis Androutsopoulos, King's College, London
Online ethnography can be thought of as having a screen-based and a participant-based dimension. The former is based on systematic observation of online activities, whereas the latter draws on direct (face-to-face or mediated) contact to participants. In previous work on discourse-centred online ethnography (Androutsopoulos 2008) I discussed how these two techniques might complement each other within a sociolinguistic approach to computer-mediated discourse. In this paper I discuss the elicitation and use of screen-based data in my current study of web 2 environments. Even though the notion of screen-based ethnography might seem an oxymoron at first sight, I emphasise the dynamic process of observing and tracking online activities, and suggest that such research practice is a precondition for developing process-based categories in computer-mediated discourse analysis. I illustrate this with three concepts that are central to my analysis of facebook and YouTube data: multimodality, intertextuality, and heteroglossia. Understanding their workings depends on understanding how online activities unfold and online texts are interrelated. Against that background I identify some practical aspects of hypertextual exploration that I came to recognise as relevant in screen-based ethnography: identifying units of analysis; enhancing contextual information; and understanding indicators of online activity.
Androutsopoulos, J. (2008) Potentials and limitations of discourse-centered online ethnography. Language@Internet , 5, article 8. [Special issue on Data and Methods in Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis , guest eds. J Androutsopoulos & M. Beißwenger.] http://www.languageatinternet.de/articles/2008
9 June 2009
A DIGITAL METHODOLOGIES seminar
Designing for digital literacies
Monika Buscher, Centre for Mobilities Research and Imagination Lancaster, Lancaster University
Digital literacies - the social and material practices needed to understand the actual and potential function of digital technologies - are critical to contemporary knowledge societies and emergent digital economies. They are needed to enable creativity and the social innovation required to shape desirable and viable socio-technical change. They are also needed to motivate and inform critique and critical resistance around dangers arising from the increasingly pervasive power of computing (e.g. through the mapping, tracking and interrogating and datamining of virtual and physical mobilities). In this presentation I will discuss different approaches in ethnographically informed collaborative design that seek to address these challenges.
16 June 2009
A DIGITAL METHODOLOGIES seminar
Digital Literature as a Tool for (Foreign) Language Learning: Collaboration, Creativity, Transliteracy
Astrid Ensslin, School of Creative Studies and Media, Bangor University
In this talk I aim to show a cross-section of research and teaching methods investigating and implementing digital literature (mostly fiction and poetry) in the (foreign) language classroom. Approaches range from 'traditional' hypertext and hypermedia to interactive multimedia and ludic texts, and I shall examine how networked literary and multimodal creativity at school and university level may contribute towards the development of communicative competence and confidence, transliteracy, rhetorical and collaborative skills as well as higher levels of critical/analytical awareness with respect to stylistic, intertextual and multimodal features. In particular, I shall look at the Leeds Hypertext Project, Kids on the Net, Southwold Online, and the Inanimate Alice Pedagogy Project.
23 June 2009 A DIGITAL METHODOLOGIES seminar
Researching virtual worlds in school settings
Guy Merchant, Sheffield Hallam University
The use of virtual worlds in educational settings could well enhance or transform learning, but empirical research that investigates classroom practice is still in its infancy. Although a number of claims have been made about high levels of learner engagement in gameplay, and the construction of 'powerful learning environments' in virtual worlds, there is clearly scope for more empirical evidence in this area. This seminar will reflect on my research into avatar-based virtual world gameplay in primary schools, based on work which aimed to extend and develop literacy learning. Engagement with the immersive and textually-rich online environment we designed provided a context for a 'constellation of literacy practices', crossing between real and virtual spaces. My study used fieldnotes, chat-logs, in-world interviews and observations to analyse pupil and teacher interactions as well as their understandings of the digital literacies involved. Inflected by the new literacies approach, my work looks at t he educational potential of using online worlds to create virtual communities, and to promote new forms of situated learning. In doing this, it addresses a number of key questions concerning engagement with virtual worlds. These include: how avatar interaction can be used to develop literacy; how teachers can make effective use of virtual worlds in the classroom; and how researchers can make sense of the complex and fluid texts that are produced in these environments.
13 October 2009
Professor John Traxler, Wolverhampton University
Learning, Literacy and Mobility
The past decade has seen the emergence of 'mobile learning' as a body of projects, programmes, methods, concepts and people. The mobile learning community has demonstrated that it can, firstly, take learning to individuals, communities and countries that were previously too remote, socially or geographically, for other educational initiatives and secondly, enhance, extend and enrich the concept and activity of learning, beyond earlier conceptions of learning.
There are however still the significant challenges of scale, sustainability, inclusion and equity, and of context and personalisation, of blending with other established and emerging educational technologies. There is also the challenge of developing the substantial and credible evidence-base to justify investment in further research and development. Incidentally however, national and European policy objectives have meant much of the funding that has driven these developments have been for literacy and adult basic skills. In the same period, dramatic and almost universal increases in personal mobility and connectivity have changed the wider social context of education, learning and literacy. This seminar will look at the these issues and at their relationships.
20th October 2009
Aïssatou Mbodj-Pouye, Centre d'études africaines & IIAC/équipe Anthropologie de l'écriture, EHESS, Paris.
The value of literacy in a rural community in Mali: An ethnographic account of one man's writing practices
This presentation will draw on ethnographic data collected since 2002 as part of a study of personal literacy practices in rural Mali. For this paper, I will focus on one of the most prolific writers I have worked with, Moussa Coulibaly, a young adult who went to primary school and who informally acts as a literacy-broker in the village. Though his writings betray features of "grassroots writing", the range of practices he engages in is impressive: writing letters, making shopping-lists, recording family events, accounting, etc.
I will pursue three lines of analysis. Firstly, I will argue that his writing practices provide a lens through which to examine the web of local practices he is part of. It reveals how omnipresent writing is, even in a context with low literacy rates.
Secondly, I will offer insights into broader language and literacy dynamics by focusing on the uses of Bamanan and French, the two languages Moussa Coulibaly writes in.
Finally, this study will explore the anthropological meaning of his writing practices as a technique of the self. I will sketch out Moussa's career as a writer, highlighting the social benefits he gets from his uncertain but intensive engagement with writing.
Throughout this presentation, I will discuss the methodological challenges of linking textual analysis with a broader ethnographic approach.
3rd November 2009
Uta Papen, Lancaster University (chair)
Discussion of paper by Theresa Lillis: Ethnography as method, methodology, and 'deep theorizing': closing the gap between text and context in academic writing research. Written Communication no. 25 (2008) pp. 353-388.
You can download the paper as a PDF document by clicking on the link above.
10th November 2009
David Barton, Amy Burgess, Mary Hamilton, Literacy Research Centre
Academics Writing in a Changing World
We are interested in how academics' writing practices are changing. We will report on a pilot study of interviews with experienced academics in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences talking about their scholarly writing. Each interview focused on a specific piece of writing and people talked about times and places to write, their use of different technologies, their range of writing, their experiences of collaboration and how their practices have changed in the past 5 years. In this session we will present examples and draw out a set of themes from the study.
Everyone is welcome, especially people from other disciplines. This is likely to be of interest to any academics who write - that is all of us!
17th November 2009
Marie-Eve Humery, Anthropology of writing research group , IIAC-EHESS (Paris)
Writing in Fula in North Senegal : two graphic systems and some questions for the study of digraphia and multiscriptal situations
In this talk, I present a case of multiscriptal practices in an African mother tongue. Drawing on data from my doctoral research in Senegal, I focus in particular on issues relating to data collection and analysis. I begin by explaining the complex situation of writing (and reading) in Fula amongst the Fulbe/Haalpulaar'en people in Senegal and Mauritania. A diacronic and socially contextualised perspective will be used to describe this sociolinguistic context. I will then discuss some methodological and theoretical points which emerge from my study of writing in Fula. For example, which key concepts (digraphia/multigraphia/multiscript) to use and how to define these? What kind of tools and disciplinary approaches are relevant to the study of literacy contexts characterised by multiscriptal practices in one or several languages? How to articulate practices and ideological dimensions related to each graphic system? Finally, I will ask how this field of research could become more participatory, involving the people who are being studied.
24th November 2009
Mark Sebba, Lancaster University
Discourses in transit
Recently, a number of frameworks have been put forward which provide approaches to the interpretation of bilingual and multilingual public texts such as street signs. In particular, the notion of 'linguistic landscapes' (Landry and Bourhis 1997, Gorter 2006) provides a way of thinking about multilingual public texts as reflections of the multilingual composition of an urban area, while Scollon and Scollon (2003) analyse signs, including bilingual signage, in terms of the 'semiotics of place', using a framework which includes visual and textual components of signs as well as their geographical location.
I will argue that fixed signs may indeed be valuable indicators of such things as multilingual composition of a community, public debates about language, public policy goals, and power relations between languages, but they should not be seen in isolation from other types of public texts which are not fixed in space. 'Unfixed' or 'mobile' public texts, for example in the form of product labels, pamphlets, banknotes, stamps, tickets, handbills, flyers and general 'ephemera', are pervasive in contemporary society. Some of these connect to fixed texts (like street signs and billboards) via logos, colour schemes, layout and content. They are amenable to similar kinds of analysis in terms of their structure, layout and visual imagery. What is more, mobile texts require 'reading' in the same kind of way as fixed texts - for example, authority and authenticity are indexed in the same (or similar) ways. Both fixed and mobile texts may be involved in more than one discourse, for example a bus timetable may tell you about bus times but also about the importance of different places along the route and the kind of people who might be expected to use the bus services; these messages are likely to be reinforced (or occasionally contradicted) in various ways by the fixed signage of bus shelters, road markings etc., and are accessible to readers, although they are not part of the overt message. Thus while fixed signage is undoubtedly of great interest in its own right, it needs to be seen and analysed as a subset or 'special case' of the set of all public texts, which also includes mobile or 'non-fixed' public texts.
Gorter, Durk 2006. Introduction: The Study of the Linguistic Landscape as a New Approach to Multilingualism. International Journal of Multilingualism. Vol. 3, No. 1, 1-6
Landry, R. and Bourhis, R.Y. (1997) Linguistic landscape and ethnolinguistic vitality: An empirical study. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 16, 23-49.
Scollon, Ron and Suzie Wong Scollon 2003. Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World. London: Routledge.
1st December 2009
Karin Tusting, Lancaster University
Paperwork in the workplace: responses to 'imposed' literacy practices.
Literacy studies, particularly at Lancaster, has a strong tradition of bringing to light vernacular, self-generated literacy practices which are otherwise often overlooked. In this presentation I am going to examine how people negotiate literacy practices that are, in some ways, the opposite to this: that is, paperwork demands that are imposed on them, as a requirement of their work. These practices have increased in contemporary workplaces, as part of a shift towards increased pressures of self-accountability at all levels. I have recently been researching experiences of such paperwork in two contrasting educational workplaces: an early years education site, and an adult and community college. In both sites, a common discourse about the problems of paperwork was drawn on by staff describing their experiences. By comparing the two sites, however, significant differences emerge which give insights into the conditions under which imposed literacy practices become more or less problematic. I will describe these differences, and argue that responses to such 'imposed' literacy practices can give us insights into how textualisation of the workplace shapes and changes workplace social relations and professional identities.
LRDG Meeting Record
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