IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


VIRTUAL EVENT: Academic literacies as praxis: forging a space in academic evaluation regimes

25 March 2021, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

IOE Writing Seminar. Image background: Students writing outside. Charlotte May via Pexels

This webinar explores the context and the need for academic literacies praxis, and the possibilities for its continued development in contemporary higher education institutions.

This event is free.

Event Information

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Academic Writing Centre

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Academic literacies as a field of enquiry sprang from the interests of practitioners, seeking to deploy empirical research and theorisation to understand and address challenges encountered in their work with student writers. 

A key consequence of academic literacies as praxis is its institutional positioning at a point of tension. While empirical and theoretical work enable us both to gain a better understanding of what writing in the academy ‘is’ and to imagine what it ‘might be’, the insights for transforming practice necessarily fall somewhere in between, obliged to reckon with the material and discursive conditions of the contemporary university. 

One of these conditions is the powerful prescriptive or normative pressure governing academic writers’ use of semiotic resources – languages, language varieties, styles and genres. Academic literacies praxis therefore becomes a matter of forging a space for writers’ meaning-making within the context of contemporary academia.

In this talk, we present a series of small vignettes drawn from research and practice to illustrate the ongoing need for an academic literacies praxis in the context of powerful ‘evaluation regimes’ in academia. We also explore opportunities for working within what Brian Street calls the ‘cracks’ inside institutional walls. 

Academic Writing Seminar Series

Monthly seminar series where speakers present research and innovations in practice, and reflect on personal and institutional experiences of academic writing.


Image background: Charlotte May via Pexels

About the Speakers

Jackie Tuck

Senior Lecturer in English Language and Applied Linguistics at The Open University

Jackie is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

She has over thirty years of teaching experience in a wide range of post-compulsory educational settings. In her work she adopts an ‘academic literacies’ approach, employing ethnographically-oriented methodology to critically explore the lived experiences of all participants in the complex web of practice relating to writing at university. 

She is currently taking a particular interest in those ‘hidden’ literacy practices and non-events, such as the marking of students’ written work, which play a huge but taken-for-granted role in higher education. She convenes the Professional, Academic and Work-based Literacies Special Interest Group (SIG) within the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)

Theresa Lillis

Professor Emerita of English Language and Applied Linguistics at The Open University

Theresa has taught across educational levels, including secondary, futher education, adult education and higher education.

She has published extensively in academic journals and authored, co-authored and edited numerous books and Special Issues. Key works include:

  • Student writing: Access, regulation, desire (2001, Routledge)
  • Academic writing in a global context (2010, Routledge, with Mary Jane Curry)
  • The sociolinguistics of writing (2013, Edinburgh)
  • Theory in Applied Linguistics (2015, AILA Review)
  • The dynamics of textual trajectories in professional and workplace practice, with Janet Maybin (2017, Special Issue of Text and Talk)
  • Gender and academic writing, with Jenny McMullan and Jackie Tuck (2018, Special Issue of Journal of English for academic purposes).

Her current research centres on the writing of social workers, for more information: Writing in professional social work practice in a changing communicative landscape