Literacy History: Pushing the Disciplinary Boundaries

Date: 7 March 2011 Time: 10.00 am - 4.00pm

Venue: County South, Room C89 (meeting room 7)

Open seminar
Open seminar

Harvey Graff argued in the mid 1980s that the History of Literacy had become established as a 'central concern for historians' with the history of literacy assuming a prominence arising from exceptional growth during the 1970s. During this period he also argued for a broader interdisciplinary recognition of the significant body of scholarship and literature that has been influential in this field.

Since Graff drew attention to the establishment of this field, we have moved into the digital age with its associated growth in multi-media, multi-modal environments. The political spotlight in the political arena and public debates has also moved even more directly onto literacy teaching, and concerns about literacy standards. It has therefore, become even more important to consider, critique, and problematise our 'common sense' assumptions about literacy education in the 21st Century. Expanding the scope and depth of our understandings of the history of literacy offers us as educators and educational researchers the opportunity to enhance our understandings of literacy and literacy education.

This seminar, jointly hosted by the BERA Literacy and Language SIG and the Literacy Research Centre, Lancaster University, provides an opportunity to bring together a range of educational researchers whose work spans across different disciplines, phases, interests and perspectives to explore the potential for new interdisciplinary perspectives, conceptualisations, understandings and interpretations of language, literacy, learning and pedagogy.

Janet Soler, The Open University: History of discourses around dyslexia

Nigel Hall, Manchester Metropolitan University: Erasable writing technologies

Mary Hamilton, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Lancaster University: Literacy by Numbers: a history of reading, writing and statistics

Gary McCulloch, Institute of Education, London: Discussant

Interactive poster session

Cost £35 including lunch.

This cost includes either a place in the minibus from Lancaster Stn at 9.55 (to meet the 7.30-9.54 train from London to Lancaster), returning at 4.10 (eg for the 16.38 - 19.13 train) or a car park space. Each of these options has to be booked in advance for this to apply. No reduction if not taken up.

To book:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Julia Gillen (Linguistics and English Language), Mary Hamilton (Educational Research)

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

Keywords: Discourse, Discourse-Historical Approach, Education, Education technology, History, Literacy