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LRDG meetings held in 2012
Julia Gillen (Lancaster University), Rebecca Ferguson (Open University), Anna Peachey (Eygus Ltd.) & Peter Twining (Open University)
Meeting challenges in analysing an online debate: The case of a planning application for a Gothic cathedral
Over a 13 month period we were interacting with teenagers from the UK and the USA in an innovative educational project centred on a virtual world, Schome Park.
Schome Park was a virtual island, set in the middle of a sunlit sea beyond which none of its inhabitants could wander. Like all islands, it had a limited set of resources and so the inhabitants had worked out a system of local governance for allocating these. One day a newcomer, who had recently landed from the USA onto this island, dominated by Brits, approached the planning permission committee. Carefully observant of legal and procedural niceties, he set out his request, in writing, as required. He wanted to build a Gothic cathedral. In many old-timers' views, this was a bad idea, something that threatened the community's history and ethos, perhaps to the core. A lively debate ensued, at times characterised by strong conflict, at others by impressive skills at argumentation.
In this presentation we discuss the development of our methodologies in analysing this debate, working in a team virtual literacy ethnography.
Click here for the handout.
NB: Different venue, County South B89.
Greg Myers, Lancaster University
#iamscience: Solidarity and boundaries on science twitter
This paper draws on a study of ten Twitter feeds by scientists. First I give an overview showing how a corpus of science tweets differs from a reference corpus of other specialist tweets. I compare the different styles and functions of science tweets in my corpus. Then I look in detail at three episodes of interaction around processes of publication, showing how the scientists develop solidarity, draw boundaries, and convey a sense of scientific work.
Jane Platt, Lancaster University
Constructing a Culture: the poetic response to his environment of an early-nineteenth-century Cumbrian dry-stone-waller
The talk discusses the life of a Cumbrian artisan poet, Thomas Watson (1771-1860), as seen through a focused study of his verse. Making connections between Watson’s poetry, regional and national publications, cultural movements, religious practices and ideas, it offers a case-study in the histories of literacy, reading, publishing, autodidacticism, education, religion and localities. A true artisan poet such as Thomas Watson - stone-waller and mason of north-east Cumberland - is a real rarity. Though scholarship has produced many autodidacts who wrote autobiography and others who became well-known poets moving far from their geographical and literary roots, this poet lived and died in the village of his birth, an active participant in the local economy. Unable to write until well into his twenties, and then only haltingly, he created oral verse for a rural audience to whom oral performance may have been a more important mode of transmission than formal publication. The talk explores who Watson’s audience may have been, and his poetry’s potential for oral dissemination at a time, and in a locality, which was not an oral society nor yet quite fully literate. The talk examines Watson’s reasons for writing, his literary influences and his reading habits, noting that though his poetry may be used as an index of attitudes at a time of social transition, Watson was not merely a passive observer of his world. As a writer seeking to mould his experience within accepted poetic forms for the benefit of himself and his audience, Watson was an active agent involved in constructing his culture’s sense of reality.
Tony Capstick, Lancaster University
Vernacular literacies and Facebook: A case study of mobile multilingual resources in online writing
New media contexts provide an important research field from which to examine how internet users use mobile linguistic resources across contexts. This study looks at how existing offline communities have been expanded to online contexts and the affordances of the new media used to develop ways of deploying linguistic resources for migrants and their families. Writing is increasingly used in contexts where the availability of digital technologies allows people to create social bonds through vernacular forms of writing which remain integral to their private lives but which are not recognized as valid by dominant institutions (Barton and Papen 2010). This paper examines the vernacular online literacy practices of one family and their extended online network of ‘friends’ through the photographs and comments they post on Facebook. The types of text which are examined, in addition to being part of the respondents’ everyday lives, are also related to the complex processes of migration. The aim is to demonstrate the significance of online writing practices not only to the individuals involved but also in relation to what they reveal about wider processes of marriage migration and transnational family life. The study is part of a broader program of ethnographic research on the literacy practices of a family from Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, and Accrington, UK, where vernacular literacy practices are examined alongside the dominant literacies of the visa process.
Wendy Crocker, University of Western Ontario, Canada
A tale of two contexts: A discussion of the school literacies of the Old Colony Mennonites
In March, 2012 I had the rare opportunity of edgewalking (Kreb, 1999) in the Cd. Chihuahua area of Mexico – home to many Old Colony Mennonites. The purpose of this discussion is to unpack themes that I have distilled from the photo and audio data collected during my research trip. I travelled to the Mennonite colonies in Mexico to observe first-hand the school literacy practices of the Old Colony (i.e., Low German speaking Mennonites or LGM). Members of this transnational culture travel annually between their homes on the campos or colonies near Cd. Chihuahua, Mexico, into southwestern Ontario, Canada in search of employment as agricultural workers. This migration has been occurring since the 1950`s and while it is not as evident as in previous decades, the number of Old Colony children in Ontario public schools still waxes and wanes with the seasons. While in Mexico, these children also attend school but have very different school experiences and literacies (New London Group, 1996) than when they are in Ontario. The purpose of this discussion is to present my data using a multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2008) perspective in light of Street’s (1984) models of literacy. I ask: How do the school literacy practices of Old Colony Mennonite students in Mexico compare with those of the same children while in Ontario schools?
Mary Hamilton, Lancaster University
Literacy and the politics of representation
In this session I will draw on material from my recent 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 research, in the media, in government and in popular discourses. I will focus on the theories and methodologies that now seem to me most useful for understanding textually mediated social worlds and I will ‘revisit’ Local Literacies, the study I wrote with David Barton which has just been reissued as a Routledge linguistics classic text.
Reading and discussion session, led by Julia Gillen, Lancaster University
Prinsloo, M. (2005) The new literacies as placed resources
Mark Sebba, Lancaster University
Beyond Starbucks: the monolingual, multilingual and multimodal discourses of product packaging
Please bring a small product package to this seminar, e.g. a water bottle, soft drink can, packet of soup...
Ron Scollon is famous for having made a paper coffee cup the focus of a talk; in his book Mediated Discourse he describes it as an 'impressive semiotic complex'. Nevertheless there is less linguistic research on product packaging and labels than you might expect. In this discussion/workshop session I will talk about some of my recent ideas about multilingualism, multimodality, literacies and globalisation in the context of product packaging. I welcome the chance to discuss with other members ideas such as hyperinscription, secondary discourses, and the 'readerless text'.
LRDG Meeting Record
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