Professor Kate Pahl B.A., M.A., Cert Ed., Ph.D.

Photograph of Kate Pahl

Professor of Literacies in Education

Tel: (+44) (0)114 222 8112
Fax: (+44) (0)114 279 6236
Room: 8.03

Current Research Projects

Imagine. Kate is the Principle Investigator of the AHRC/ESRC Connected Communities funded consortium ‘Imagine’ Project. The project is called, ‘The social, historical, cultural and democratic context of civic engagement: imagining different communities and making them happen.’ The shorter title of the project is ‘Imagine’. This is a Connected Communities Programme investment of £2.2M (funded by ESRC). Grant number ES/K002686/1.

The ‘Imagine’ programme is a five-year project running from 2013 to 2017 which brings together a range of different research projects working together across universities and communities. The universities involved include Kate Pahl at Sheffield (lead), Angie Hart at Brighton, Sarah Banks at Durham and Paul Ward at Huddersfield, with further involvement from the universities of Edinburgh, Kent, Birkbeck, Stirling, Westminster, Warwick, and partners from the University of Crete, University of Osnabruck, Germany, Dalhousie University, Canada and Malardalen University, Sweden. International partners include Etienne Wenger and Bev Traynor, Susan Hyatt, Indiana University, Harvinder Bedi, Development Support team, Pune, India, Eric Lassiter, Marshall University USA and Lynda Cheshire, University of Queensland, Australia.

Kate is leading the consortium, but also directs the Sheffield part of the project, which is on the ‘Cultural context of civic engagement’. With partners across the region, including The Hepworth Wakefield, Museums Sheffield, and the Site Gallery together with community partners in Rotherham including Rotherham Youth Service and local artists, poets and writers, this part of the project will explore how revisiting the past shapes imagining the future, with a focus on Park Hill flats, histories of the steel industry and textile industry in Rotherham, literary and aesthetic explorations for better imagined futures and work with young people to develop new ways of creating hopeful visions.

Follow us on Twitter on@imagine_connect

Ways of Neighbourhood Working and Knowing: ESRC seminar series. Kate is Co-I on a seminar series looking at ways of knowing in neighbourhoods. She recently organized a seminar called Ways of knowing in neighbourhood working: Policy V. Zine’ – St Mary’s Church, Sheffield, 1st October 2015

Previous Research Projects

Co-producing legacy: What is the role of artists within Connected Communities projects? Kate is the PI on this research project which will explore how artists work within the AHRC Connected Communities programme. The programme has encouraged arts and humanities academics to work in different ways with communities to co-produce research across a range of disciplines. Many academics have worked with artists to realize ideas and help with a community engaged approach to research. At the same time artists have framed, challenged and theoretically informed engaged research. Helen Graham, Steve Pool and Amanda Ravetz make up the project team. The team will work with Castlefield Art Gallery, A-N The Artists Information Company, Arts Council England and the AHRC Connected Communities leadership fellows to generate and disseminate findings. The project lasts for one year, from February 2014 to June 2015 and is an AHRC Connected Communities development grant.

Community Arts Zone. Kate is a co-applicant with Dr Jennifer Rowsell, Brock University and Kris Gutierrez, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA in a project called Community Arts Zone funded by SSHRC Canada. The proposed research will be conducted across four contexts in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Set within economically struggling and disadvantaged communities (Boulder, CO; Rochester, USA; Rotherham, UK, and St. Catharines, ON), the research teams in each context will complete arts projects and multimodal units of study across age and grade levels through community partnerships. Built on the concept of modal learning, researchers in each context will participate in arts initiatives that ask children and youth to develop expertise in different modes of expression and representation. The project will run from July 2013 to end June 2015.

Research for Community Heritage - Portals to the Past. Kate was involved with the All Our Stories Research for Community Heritage AHRC/HLF project as a co-investigator. Bob Johnston, archaeology, was the PI. This involved supporting a project called ‘Portals to the Past’. Young people in Rawmarsh worked with song writer Ray Hearne, together with academics from the University of Sheffield, the local archives, libraries, Youth Service and schools to explore the heritage of Rawmarsh through literary texts, archaeology, drama, poetry and visual art.

Communication wisdom: a study of the uses of fishing in youth work. This was a joint project with the School of English at Sheffield and Johan Siebers from the University of Central Lancashire. The aim was to better understand how the reflective space of fishing provides a place for the intergenerational communication of a specific type of know-how that is still important today: wisdom. Working with the youth service in Rotherham, this project re-engaged young people in intergenerational learning and wisdom and enabled them to reflect on the complex meanings that lie dormant beneath the surface of a familiar activity. The project was funded through the AHRC Connected Communities programme from February 2013 to January 2014.

Transmitting Musical Heritage. Kate was the PI on a project with Fay Hield, Music and Richard Steadman-Jones, School of English. The research was delivered through a process of co-production involving three researchers from the music department (Dr Fay Hield, John Ball and David Judge) working alongside three community music organisations in Sheffield - Soundpost, Babel Songs and Arts on the Run. The research was funded by the AHRC’s Connected Communities research programme and runs from February 2013 – end January 2014.

To find out more about this project see the Transmitting Musical heritage website. The film can be watched which was shown at the AHRC Connected Communities Summit in July 2013.

Ways of Knowing. Kate is involved in the ‘Ways of Knowing’ project which is funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme from February 2013 for one year. This project will be exploring the different ‘ways of knowing’ which emerge from collaborative, participatory or action research. For more information about this project visit our blog:

Making Meaning Differently: Policy Briefing: Community Governance in an Age of Decentralisation. Kate was asked to prepare a policy briefing and a film for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on representation in community governance. People from community groups with different perspectives and experiences shaped the research. Her project involved working with a group of young people from Rawmarsh to make films about representation. The project ran from November 2012 – end April 2013 and was funded through the AHRC’s Connected Communities Programme. See The final report.

Language as Talisman. Kate was awarded a Development Grant from February - November 2012 from the AHRC's Connected Communities programme to do a study called Language as Talisman in partnership with the Youth Service in Rotherham together with Jane Hodson, Richard Steadman-Jones and Hugh Escott, from the English Department at the University of Sheffield, as well as David Hyatt, School of Education. The project focused on language in community contexts and included a research review of the literature on language and dialect in Rawmarsh, Rotherham as well as a community project to engage families and young people in creating stories, poems, films and other linguistic forms on the theme of language in the community. You can see the report here:

Every Object Tells a Story. Kate was also involved in the Every Object Tells a Story project, which was funded through the AHRC Diasporas Migration and Identities Research programme.


The experience of being on Kate’s courses is to become immersed in visual, ethnographic, participatory and innovative approaches to research. Students understand the field of literacy and language in relation to communities, identities and creativities. All courses taught by Kate encourage a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary approach to the subject of literacy and language in home and community contexts.

Kate directs the EdD in Literacy and Language. This is an exciting doctoral programme that gives students a research-led approach to studying literacy and language using theory from a wide variety of sources. Literacy is understood as a situated social practice, linked to space, place and identity. Kate’s contribution is to develop research skills that are visual, participatory and creative, so that students can develop their own research projects in community settings. Her research students work in the areas of visual methodologies, the New Literacy Studies, ethnography, multilingualism, multimodality, creativity, museums and art education.


  • On the editorial board of Literacy, the UKLA journal (Blackwells)
  • On the editorial board of The Journal of Early Childhood Literacy (Sage)
  • On the Editorial Review Board for Reading Research Quarterly.
  • On the Editorial Review Board for Language Arts



Rowsell, J. and Pahl, K. (2015) Eds . The Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies. London: Routledge

Pahl, K. (2014) Materializing Literacies in Communities: The Uses of Literacy Revisited. London: Bloomsbury

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2012) Literacy and Education: Understanding the New Literacy Studies in the Classroom 2nd Edition. London: Sage

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2012) Early Childhood Literacy. (Four volumes) Sage Library of Educational Thought and Practice. London: Sage

Grenfell, M, Bloome, D, Hardy, C. Pahl, K, Rowsell, J and Street B (2012) Language, Ethnography and Education: Bridging New Literacy Studies and Bourdieu. New York: Routledge

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J (2010) Artifactual Literacies: Every object tells a story. New York: Teachers College Press.

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (eds) (2006) Travel Notes from the New Literacy Studies: Instances of Practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2005) Literacy and Education: The New Literacy Studies in the Classroom. London: Paul Chapman

Pahl, K. (1999) Transformations: Children´s Meaning Making in a Nursery. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.

Chapters and Articles

Hall, M., Pahl, K. and Pool, S. (2015) Visual Digital Methodologies with Children and Young People: Perspectives from the Field. In: E. Stirling and D. Yamada-Rice (Eds). Visual Methods with Children and Young People: Academics and Visual industries in Dialogue. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan pp 164-185

Marshall, B. and Pahl, K. (2015),"Who owns educational research? Disciplinary conundrums and considerations", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 15 Iss 4 pp. 472 - 488

Pool, S. and Pahl, K. (2015) The work of art in the age of mechanical co-production. In. D. O'Brien and P. Mathews (Eds) After Urban Regeneration: Communities Policy and Place. Bristol: Policy Press pp79-94

Flewitt, R., Pahl, K. & Smith, A. (Guest Editors). (2015). Special issue editorial: Methodology matters. Literacy, 48(1), 1-2.

McMillan, A. and Pahl, K. (2015) Writing Out The Loss: Intersections and Conversations Between Poetry and Ethnography. Argument and Critique April 2015

Pahl, K. (2015) Literacy in the Community: the Interpretation of "Local" Literacy Practices Through Ethnography. In: P.Smeyers, D.Bridges, N. C. Burbules and M.Griffiths, Eds. International Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research. Part 1. Heidleberg: Springer Dordrecht pp399-422

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2015) 'Classroom Case Studies: Artifactual Literacies in Action'. In: J. Larson and J. Marsh Making Literacy Real: Theories and Practices for Learning and Teaching. London: Sage. pp99 - 106

Pahl, K. and Khan, A. (2015) Artifacts of Resilience: Enduring Narratives, Texts, Practices Across Three Generations. in: Julian Sefton-Green and Jennifer Rowsell (eds.) Learning and Literacy Over Time: Longitudinal Perspectives. London: Routledge. pp116-133

Pahl, K. (2014) The Aesthetics of Everyday Literacies: home writing practices in a British Asian household. Anthropology and Education Quarterly Vol 45(3) 293-311 OPEN ACCESS

Pahl, K. (2014) '"Its about Living Your Life": Family Time and School Time as a resource for Meaning Making in Homes, Schools and Communities'. In: C. Compton-Lilly and E. Halverson (eds') Time and Space in Literacy Research. New York and London: Routledge pp 47-62

Pahl, K. (2014) New literacy studies. In C. Leung and B. V. Street (Eds.) The Routledge Companion to English Studies. pp 435-448. London: Routledge

Burnett, C., Merchant, G., Pahl, K., and Rowsell, J. (2014) ‘The (im)materiality of literacy: the significance of subjectivity to new literacies research’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol35, no.1, pp.90-103.

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2014) Artifactual Literacies. In: P. Albers, T. Holbrook and A. Seely Flint (eds.) New Methods of Literacy Research. London: Routledge pp 163 - 176

Pahl, K. and Burnett C. (2013) Literacies in Homes and Communities. In: K. Hall, T. Cremin, B. Comber and L. Moll Eds. International Handbook of Research on Children’s Literacy, Learning and Culture. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell pp. 3 – 14.

Pahl, K. Steadman-Jones, R. and Pool, S. (2013) Dividing the Drawers. Creative Approaches to Research 6 (1) 71 – 88

Rowsell, J. Kress, G., Pahl, K. and Street B. (2013) The Social Practice of Multimodal Reading: A New Literacy Studies - Multimodal Perspective on reading. In: Alvermann, D.E., Unrau, N.J., & Ruddell, R.B. (Eds.). (2013). Theoretical models and processes of reading (6th ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.pp 1182-1207

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2013) Artifactual Literacies. In J. Larson and J. Marsh (Eds) The Sage Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy. Second Edition London: Sage pp. 263-278

Pahl, K. (2012) Time and Space as a Resource for Meaning-Making by Children and Young People in Home and Community Settings. Global Studies of Childhood 2 (3) pp. 201-216

Pahl, K. (2012) Every object tells a story: Intergenerational Stories and Objects in the Homes of Pakistani Heritage Families in South Yorkshire, UK. Home Cultures 9 (3) pp. 303 -328

Pahl, K. (2012) “A Reason to Write” Exploring writing epistemologies in two contexts. Pedagogies: An International Journal 7 (3) pp 209-228

Pahl, K. and Pool, S. (2011) Living your life because its the only life you’ve got: Participatory research as a site for discovery in a creative project in a primary school in Thurnscoe, UK. Qualitative Research Journal, Vol 11 (2) 17-37.

Pahl, K., & Rowsell, J. (2011). Artifactual critical literacy: A new perspective for literacy education. Berkeley Review of Education, 2(2), 129-152.

Pahl, K. and Allan C. (2011) I don’t know what literacy is: Uncovering hidden literacies in a community library using ecological and participatory methodologies with children. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. Vol 11 No 2 190-213

Pahl, K. (2011) Improvisations and transformations across modes: the case of a classroom multimodal box project. In J. Swann, R. Pope and R. Carter (Eds) Creativity in Language and Literature:The State of the Art. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan pp 156-171.

Pahl, K. (2011). My Family, My Story: Representing Identities in Time and Space Through Digital Storytelling. In S. Schamroth- Abrams & J.Rowsell's Rethinking Identity and Literacy Education in the 21st Century. National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook. Volume 110, Issue 1. Pp17-40

Pahl, K and Rowsell, J. (2011) The Material and the Situated: What Multimodality and New Literacy Studies Do for Literacy Research (Third Edition). In: D. Lapp and D. Fisher Eds. Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts. Oxon and New York: Routledge

Pahl, K. Comerford-Boyes, L., Genever, K., and Pool, S. (2010) Artists, Art and Artefacts: boundary crossings, art and anthropology Creative Approaches to Research Vol 3 (1) pp 82 -101

Pahl, K. and Pollard, A. (2010) The Case of the Disappearing Object: Narratives and artefacts in homes and a museum exhibition from Pakistani heritage families in South Yorkshire Museum and Society 8 (1) 1 – 17

Pahl, K. (2010) `Changing Literacies: Schools, communities and homes´ In J. Lavia and M Moore (eds) Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Policy and Practice. Decolonizing Community Contexts. London: Routledge pp 58-71

Pahl, K, with Pollard, A and Rafiq, Z (2009) Changing Identities, Changing Spaces: The Ferham Families Exhibition in Rotherham. Moving Worlds Vol 9 No 2 80 – 103

Pahl, K. (2009) Interactions, intersections and improvisations: Studying the multimodal texts and classroom talk of six to seven year olds Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9 (2) 188-210

Pahl, K. (2008) Looking with a different eye: creativity and literacy in the early years. In: J. Marsh and E. Hallet (eds) Desirable Literacies: Approaches to language and Literacy in the Early Years pp 140 – 161

Pahl, K. (2007) Timescales and Ethnography: Understanding a child´s meaning-making across three sites, a home, a classroom and a family literacy class. Ethnography and Education. Vol 2 no 2 pp 175-190

Pahl K (2007) Creativity in events and practices: a lens for understanding children´s multimodal texts Literacy Vol 41 Number 2 pp 86-92

Rowsell, J. and Pahl, K. (2007) Sedimented identities in texts: Instances of practice. Reading Research Quarterly. Vol. 42, Issue 3 pp 388-401


Connelly, S. Dabinett, G. Muirhead, S. Pahl, K and Vanderhoven, D. (2013) Making meaning differently. Policy Briefing: Community Governance in an Age of Decentralisation. Unpublished report for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), funded by AHRC Connected Communities programme.

Pahl, K (2007) Looking with a different eye. Report on a partnership between artists and teachers in an Infants´ School in Barnsley.

View a full list of Kate Pahl’s publications

Recent Funded Projects

Evaluation, Inspire Rotherham: Grant from Yorkshire Forward from May 2009 - April 2010 to study the impact of the Inspire Rotherham project on families, schools and communities in Rotherham.

A Reason to Write: Grant from Cape UK to study the impact of three artists on a school in the Dearne valley, and to focus on artists and teachers practices January 2009 for 2 years.

My Family, My Story: grant from MLA Yorkshire from June 2008 – February 2009 to research digital storytelling project with Thirsk community school and The World of James Herriot

Every Object Tells a Story: Family Literacy project funded by the Knowledge Opportunities Transfer Fund, University of Sheffield, to develop an archive of narratives and images into a family learning project. Jan - March 2008

Artefacts and narratives of migration: Rotherham museum collections and the Pakistani/Kashmiri community of Rotherham AHRC small grant from the Diasporas Migration Identities programme 2006-7

Creativity in schools and community contexts: A Creative Partnerships Project, funded by Barnsley Doncaster and Rotherham Creative Partnerships 2005-6

Research Students

Abdul Assim

Parven Akhter
An exploration of `funds of knowledge´ and `new literacies´ in diverse family cultures

Sallyann Bentham

Jared Bryson

Eleri Davies

Sarah Freeman

Abi Hackett

Zoyah Kinkead-Clark

Christine Lofaro

Ninette Pace-Balzan

Kath Swinney