Sheffield Literacies and Language Conference Programme

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Forging Hopeful Literacies

Friday June 16th – Saturday June 17th, 2023

For over a decade, the University of Sheffield hosted an international literacies conference.

After an unforgettable pandemic, we are returning to the tradition this June with the theme of Forging Hopeful Literacies, in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University.  

Sheffield is a city of makers and forgers, a city strongly linked with material culture of an industrial past. As a conference theme, we play on this reputation and perspectives from the past, present, and future of craft, material ways of knowing and doing, and how craft might inform our understandings of literacies, language, and communication.

The hopeful dimension of the conference invites a look ahead at literacies destinations: where we are and where we might like to be as a literacy community? Attending to the moment and speculating on the future, what kinds of literacies can we possibly hope for to meet tomorrow’s communicational demands and desires? There is an openness to this call because hopeful literacies must by their very nature be expansive and inclusive of different types of research in a wide range of contexts.

The conference offers keynote talks that explore hopeful methods, hopeful innovations, disruptive hopes, and theories that invite hope. With interactive workshops that leverage hope as a proposition for thinking, being, and imagining differently, and panels that give us small islands of hope taken together, this promises to be an unforgettable event.

Taking seriously the concept of hopeful literacies, we invite international researchers to submit 250-word abstracts of papers on a wide range of topics, theories, approaches, and provocations. This call for papers offers a space for you to share research, theory, and methods and come together to forge thoughts and exchange ideas on hopeful literacies destinations.



Friday 16th June

Venue: The Wave, Faculty of Social Sciences, 2 Whitham Road, Sheffield, S10 2AH

Conference Opening: Dr Roberta Taylor, Dr Karen Daniels & Professor Jennifer Rowsell

Time Session Speaker
08:30 -  09:00  Coffee and pastries

Coffee, pastries, and welcome with: Dr. Karen Daniels (Sheffield Hallam University) and Professor Jennifer Rowsell (University of Sheffield). (Outside of Lecture Theatre 3).

09:00  - 10:30  Opening Panel: What are ‘Hopeful Literacies’?

Panel: Dr Fiona Scott (University of Sheffield), Dr Chris Bailey (Sheffield Hallam University),
Dr Deborah Bullivant (Grimm & Co, UK), Dr Jessica Bradley (University of Sheffield), and Professor Abigail Hackett (Sheffield Hallam University). (Lecture Theatre 2)

11:00  – Noon Parallel Sessions

Panel 1: Hopeful Literacies, Lifeworlds, and Media. (Workroom 2)

Panel 2: Hopeful Literacies and Language in Schools. (Lecture Theatre 2)

Noon - 13:00  LUNCH Outside of Lecture Theatre 3 - go outside and enjoy a walk in Weston Park
13:00 - 14:00 Keynote #1 Professor Michael Dezuanni, Queensland University of Technology. (Lecture Theatre 2)
14:00  -  14:30  Coffee Break

Coffee Break & Head of School of Education welcome. (outside of Lecture Theatre 3)

14:30 - 16:00

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? - Arts-based participatory workshop

Please bring something small that has a memory attached to it.

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? - Arts-based participatory workshop, Harriet Hand, University of Bristol & Mark Shillitoe, Delft International School. (Workroom 1)

16:30  - 17:30  Wine reception

Chair Dr. Cheryl McLean, Rutgers Graduate School of Education - Announcement of Sheffield Language and Literacies Conference PGR Prize Winners; Talks by PGR Prize Winners, Professor Mia Perry – Book launch for Towards Pluriversal Literacies: When words are not enough for sustainable futures. (Workroom 2)


Lokanta Restaurant

478-480 Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2QA


Saturday 17th June

Time Session Speaker
09:00  Coffee and Pastries

Outside of Lecture Theatre 3

09:30 - 10:30 

Keynote #2

Hopeful literacies in the face of literacy monsters: meaning and mattering beyond the narrow linguistic tale

Dr Khawla Badwan, Manchester Metropolitan University (Lecture Theatre 2).

10:30 - 11:30  Parallel Sessions

Panel 1: Reimagining Literacies and Filling Up with Hope. (Workroom 1)

Panel 2: Searching and Finding Hopeful Literacies. (Lecture Hall)

Panel 3: Disrupting Literacies to Find Hope. (Workroom 2)

11:30 - 12:30  Graduate Student Presentations with Respondent Chair: Dr Cheryl McLean, Rutgers Graduate School of Education. (Lecture Theatre 2)
12:30  - 13:30 LUNCH (outside of Lecture Theatre 3) - shorter lunch*
13.30 - 14.30 Keynote #3 Dr Jennifer Farrar, University of Glasgow, Chaired by Dr Aneesh Barai. (Lecture Theatre 2)

14:30 - 15:30

Parallel Sessions

Panel 1: Post-Perspectives on Hopeful Literacies. (Lecture Theatre 2)

Panel 2: Sounding and Embodying Hopeful Literacies (Workroom 1)

15:45 - 16:00 Closing Comments  
16:00 - 17:30 Arts Walk Arts Walk. (Harcourt Road)

Full Conference programme

Conference details

You do not have to present, you can come and take part in presentations, interactive workshops, research creation events, and conversations with friend and colleagues.

Doctoral students, please follow this link for information about the Sheffield Literacies and Language Prize.

Fees for PGR students are £25 and for everyone else £50. The fees include breakfasts, lunches, and the Friday evening dinner (food only). In addition, we have reserved a number of rooms at the Rutland Hotel, close to the conference venue, for those delegates who require accommodation. 

Please complete this form to indicate your dietary requirements for catering purposes.

Rooms at the Rutland will be on a first come first serve basis and they are not covered in the conference fee.

Book your place

Key note talks

Hopeful literacies in the face of literacy monsters: meaning and mattering beyond the narrow linguistic tale

Khawla Badwan, Manchester Metropolitan University


This post-Covid 19 educational response to children’s literacy education is both troubled and troubling. Its discourses tends to be pathologising, narrowing, and problematic, leaving us with more powerful ‘literacy monsters’ (Thiel & Kuby, 2019) than the ones we grappled with before the pandemic. This keynote asks what happens if we continue to see literacy as a monolithic, neat concept which validates certain texts and practices that do not always align with the creativity, diversity and unboundedness of children’s embodied literacies. After that, the talk explores how current literacy discourses remain entangled with what Finnegan (2015, 14) describes as, ‘the partiality of the narrow linguistic tale’ that stubbornly insists on centering the ‘standard’, the ‘cognitive’ and the ‘intelligible’ while turning the back on the ‘divergent’, the ‘non-standard’, and the ‘messy’. This leads to a discussion about the need to move beyond meaning to explore mattering in literacy education. The talk ends with arguing that attending to mattering not only opens up new avenues for research and education, but also generates new arrangements that are both hopeful and merciful.

Khawla Badwan is Reader in Applied Linguistics at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research interests include language education, literacy debates, social justice, sociolinguistics of mobility, identity, and intercultural communication. Her most recent publication is a book entitled Language in a Globalised World: Social Justice Perspectives on Mobility and Contact (2021), published by Palgrave.



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