British Association of Applied Linguistics

Professional, Academic and Work-based literacies (PAWBL) SIG: June symposium

Work, life, study: literacies in and out of institutions

Call for Abstracts and Registration information

Birmingham City University, UK

Tuesday, 11th June 2019 11 am – 4.30 pm

Plenary speaker: Dr Karin Tusting, Lancaster University

Symposium theme:

A common thread connecting the triple professional, academic and work-based foci of PAWBL as a special interest group is the role of institutions in shaping literacy practices, and the consequences which follow for individuals, organisations and wider society. A concern with institutional context has enabled researchers to maintain a focus on literacies within domains of power, to substantiate a critique of the vested interests which shape institutions, policies and working practices, and to raise questions about the kinds of literacy/ies which are, and are not, valued within those institutions. At the same time, current theorisation in literacies research emphasises the need to take account of the fluid nature of literacy which follows from its fundamentally social character.  Changing communication practices have challenged researchers to question established boundaries between modes, languages, writers and readers, and domains. Texts, writers and readers are in constant movement across time and space, shifting between different work, life and study contexts, in and out of different roles and institutions. This symposium will explore emerging questions about how we understand the continuities and discontinuities between different institutional and professional contexts, and about how individuals might manage (and be helped to manage) their trajectories between, in and out of such spaces.

Some of the key questions the symposium will explore are:

  • How do individuals negotiate the different and sometimes conflicting demands of academic and professional domains, for example in undergraduate vocational higher education or those studying for a professional master’s degree or doctorate? How can literacies in these complex domains be effectively supported? What are the implications for pedagogy within and beyond institutions?
  • How do writers and readers move between different institutional contexts and practices in daily life and over the life span? Do they experience continuities or discontinuities? With what consequences, for example, for access? How best can these shifts be researched and theorized, and how can our understanding be applied?
  • What does the lens of institutionally sponsored literacies as ‘labour’ bring to our understanding of literacy practices within, on the margins of and outside of institutions? What are the wider implications for contemporary theorizing of literacies?
  • How can deeper understanding of literacies as situated social practice contribute to an understanding of institutional and social change, and how can it influence such change in positive ways, for example through policy work?
  • How do writers from different institutional and non-institutional backgrounds work collaboratively to produce texts, and how can such work be supported?

The event will combine a plenary talk by visiting speaker Dr Karin Tusting, round table discussions and presentation sessions. The aim is to continue to foster conversations on these and other issues relevant to the production, consumption and evaluation of texts in professional, academic and workplace contexts.

We welcome proposals for contributions of two kinds:

10-minute informal round table presentations on any aspects of the symposium theme. These presentations should take the form of a brief summary/statement of a specific research finding/project/interest/problem, followed by a specific question the presenter is currently grappling with (with presenters providing handouts for participants).

Up to 20-minute ‘formal’ presentations [with an additional 10 minutes for Q and A] on any aspects of the symposium theme. Presenters are welcome to use slides and/or handouts, but don’t have to.

Deadline for proposals: 15th April 2019

Format for proposals: Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words for 10-minute presentations and no more than 500 words for 20-minute presentations.

Please send your abstract to Jackie Tuck:

Deadline for registration and payment (see this website, for details and registration form): 10th May 2019

Please send your registration form to Victoria Odeniyi:

All welcome, including practitioners, postgraduate students and early career researchers.

 Symposium venue:

Seacole building, City South Campus, Birmingham City University. For a map see:

The cost per person will be £35 for BAAL members and £45 for non-members of BAAL; £20 for BAAL student members and £30 for students who are not BAAL members.