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Current - 2013
See below the dates of forthcoming Literacy Research Discussion Group meetings this term. Details of talks are posted as they become available. Details of our recent Lent term meetings are available at the bottom of this page.
David Barton and Mark Sebba will introduce a discussion on methodology based on their participation in the ESCR Conference on Researching Multilingualism held in Birmingham in March. The informal discussion is open to contributions based on other recent conferences.
Whether on computers or mobile devices, young people are often engaged in participatory literacy practices that involve reading and writing with print, sound, images, and video. What’s more, many of these digital literacy practices involve using popular culture texts and content as semiotic and rhetorical resources for composing, not just as texts to consume. Yet participatory popular culture is not only important for understanding “how” students engage with digital media, it is significant in understanding “why.” The desire to participate in popular culture contexts motivates students to spend substantial time and effort on digital projects, some of which can be quite complex and interactive. Understanding these motivations offers insights into how students perceive their identities as readers and writers, including their desire and agency to participate in literacy practices. I draw on observations and interviews with secondary and university students discuss how engagement with participatory popular culture shapes student motivation and practices in the composing and interpretation of texts. At the same time, it is important to understand how questions of power and ideology also factor in to questions of agency and participation. I will discuss how my current research on issues of literacy, identity, and participation connects to my previous work on popular culture and digital media literacy practices.
Occurring both at a personal and a socio-political level, crisis has disrupted Greek people’s daily life. In the contemporary social media landscape, with the perpetual user-generated and user-consumed content, stances that concern this critical turning point have found fertile soil to thrive. In this presentation I look at the means by which Facebook participants communicate emotions, thoughts, opinions and assessments towards the Greek crisis and its concomitants: unemployment, austerity, high taxation, governmental instability, riots, uncertainty, insecurity, and pessimism.
This paper will consider whether qualitative research traditions can interact with quantitative traditions in ways that work for the common good. To date, critical exploration of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data and their role in policy discourse has tended to focus either on the reliability of the test instruments employed to assess participants' literacy levels; or on the use of the findings, expressed as country by country rank orderings, within policy discourse. By contrast this paper will consider PISA data as an example of specialised knowledge making that travels out into policy domains, in the process losing the caveats, qualifications and uncertainties that characterise statistical thinking. The paper will focus on the use of the term "reading engagement", as a key variable that explains variation in reading performance in the OECD reports, exploring how far this acts as a case study for the social construction of statistical data. The paper will conclude by asking when and under what terms numerical data have a useful function to play; and the role qualitative research traditions have in making this happen.
Ruth Page, University of Leicester
Narratives and Evaluation in ‘The Murder of Stephen Lawrence’ Wikipedia Article
The content produced in Wikipedia articles must comply with the core principle of Neutral Point of View (Myers 2010). However, the apparent ‘neutrality’ of perspective is determined by the selection of ‘reliable sources’ used to verify Wikipedia articles, sources which reflect and constitute their ideological contexts of production and reception.
Reading and discussion session, led by Uta Papen, Lancaster University
Available through Lancaster University Onesearch at:
Julia Gillen, Lancaster University
Making sense of Twitter as professional practice: an exploratory case study
In this presentation I demonstrate a sociocultural approach to Twitter as a literacy practice. In researching the Web 2.0 interactions of Jonathan Agnew, the BBC's cricket correspondent, I develop a methodology through which I seek to integrate understandings of specific use of Twitter within a media ecology. In this case I show how practices of this "change agent" can be approached in the context of his overall professional practice and that of cricket, as a specialist media domain in a particular era. Through this exploratory case study I look forward to discussing with participants the potential and limitations of a virtual literacy ethnography.
Guy Merchant and Cathy Burnett, Sheffield Hallam University
'Points of View: reflections on a virtual world in a classroom (or was it a classroom in a virtual world)’?
In this presentation we will explore theoretical and methodological issues emerging from a study of children’s interaction and meaning-making in a virtual world. As researchers we sought to generate data from different perspectives - both in-world and in the classroom – in order to better understand how children made sense of each ‘place’ in relation to the other. Juxtaposing these different perspectives enables us to explore the complexity of the relationship between the material and virtual. We will describe how children moved seamlessly between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ appearing to make meanings through inter-connecting pathways between the two, producing hybrid spaces that were constantly under construction. Drawing on Deleuze’s ideas of the baroque (1993), we suggest a more nuanced interpretation of the online/offline dichotomy – one that acknowledges fluidity and instability. We will suggest that the implications of this work go beyond the study of digital literacy and virtual worlds and contribute to debates about how we conceptualise the situatedness of literacy. Our analysis highlights how the qualities and boundaries of space, and associated relationships and meanings, seem to change from moment to moment and differ for individuals or groups as they interact with and around texts. It argues for a view of new literacies that acknowledges this complexity.
Margarita Calderon, Lancaster University
Connections and disconnections on home and school literacy practices in Chile
This presentation explores the school and home literacy practices in economically disadvantaged settings in Chile. To do so, an ethnographic and participatory approach was developed to observe home and school on a sample of 20 students. Participants in the study were 7 to 10 years old Chilean students from two different schools. Both schools are situated in disadvantaged areas of Santiago, the capital of Chile. Participants were interviewed to discuss their practices and perceptions and then visited at home to observe their environment and routines regarding literacy practices.
General ethical principles such as informed consent, confidentiality, participants’ physical or psychological well-being and the absence of preventable harm should be respected in any research project. However, those guidelines cannot help researchers in specific situations, when they face a difficult situation in the fieldsite: this is what is called an ‘ethical dilemma’ (Goodwin, et al., 2003) or ‘everyday ethics’ (Guillemin & Heggen, 2009).
On social media, which is predicated on notions of connectedness and the establishment of social networks, acts of alignment are very much to the fore, and affordances for realising and displaying connections with others are built into the infrastructure of the applications people use to communicate. A long tradition of research into new media communication has focused on determining the extent to which users exploit such structural affordances to form ‘virtual communities’, which may or may not be judged to meet the prerequisites of offline communities (i.e. a shared set of cultural references, a regular pattern of interaction, some sense of belonging). In this talk, however, I am interested less in the structural elements of community formation, or the extent to which online communities compare to offline ones, and I focus instead on the ways in which social media users imagine and discursively construct online communities.
NOTE: 10-12 April
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