Previous Seminars



Seminar Sessions in 2018


Academic literacies: enriching the theoretical stockpot

21 September 2018 with Cecilia Jacobs

ac lit forum_invite_21sept2018

Seminar Sessions in 2017


Risky regimes: the assessment of student writing in institutional contexts

15 February 2017 with Sally Baker and Jackie Tuck

Seminar Sessions in 2016


Developing students’ academic and professional literacies through engagement with text and practice: Perceptions of lecturers in a health sciences faculty

10 August with Arona Dison, University of the Western Cape

Ac Lit Forum_invite_aug2016


27 January 2016

Writing and Identity in the Post-Graduate Space, 

Respondents: Mary Lea, OU & Lucia Thesen, UCT


Critical literacy pedagogy and teaching the pleasure and power of writing

Soraya Abdulatief, UCT

Writing is considered a high stakes activity in academia and in all levels of education in South Africa. It is also often a neglected area of teaching because it is often a neglected area of teacher training. In this presentation I examine the affordances critical literacy pedagogy offers teachers and students in learning the pleasure and power of writing. This presentation forms part of my PhD research in which I implement a critical literacy curriculum in the form or tutorials (which I design) for first year English Communication students at a higher education institution. My research design is based on action research and I will use ethnographic methods to collect data. I am about to embark on fieldwork and the ideas expressed in this presentation are shaped by readings on critical literacy pedagogy. In this presentation I focus especially on the work of Ernest Morrell (2008) and Janks (2010). I take a closer look at how these two researchers’ critical orientation to literacy frames writing as socio-political acts of reclamation and redesign.

Soraya Abdulatief is currently registered as a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Cape Town. She has lectured English Communication part-time at a university of technology. Prior to her return to postgraduate studies she was an online editor and technical writer. Her PhD research is on teaching critical literacy and academic literacy practices to higher education students. Other research interests include multimodalities with an emphasis on the visual, using technology in education and debates around race, gender, language and literacy. 

 ‘I thought I could write until I got here’: Shifting writer identities within the context of an international PhD,  

Lynn Coleman, CPUT

 This presentation offers a reflexive account of aspects of my experiences of completing my PhD at a UK university. I pay particular attention to how temporal and spatial factors opened or closed down the possibilities to use existing discoursal and linguistic repertoires or shaped the construction of newer and more appropriate resources as I wrote the PhD. This exploration attempts to draw attention to an almost subterranean writing space where tensions, dilemmas, contradictions, compromises, omissions and silences accompany the construction of the written text which is then made public. I draw broadly on academic literacies’ theoretical and analytically resources (Lea, 1994; 2008; Ivanič, 1998 and Thesen, 2014) to offer an explanatory frame of how context inextricably acted on the multiple writer identities which shaped my thesis writing.

Lynn is a senior lecturer at CPUT and currently has an academic staff development role in the ECP Unit (Extended Curriculum Programme) at Fundani (Centre for Higher Education Development). Her PhD, on academic literacies and curriculum in vocational visual communication and media courses, was completed at the Open University in England.

 An outsider’s perspective on how to make sense of the elephant(s) in the room – the entanglement of my personal and my research journey

Daniela Gachago, CPUT

The piece I am going to present is part of my PHD and offers a narrative of my own journey as a white middle class female of European descent in making sense of difference in the South African context while researching my students’ narratives of difference. I will reflect on the importance of autobiographical writing, in my case in the form of short digital stories, in order to trace my own personal research trajectory. Going through similar processes of engaging with the other as my students did, helped me make sense of the theoretical constructs I was adopting and allowed me to do – what Benmayor calls – ‘theorize from the flesh’.

Daniela Gachago is a senior lecturer in the Center for e-Learning at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She holds a PHD(Ed) from the University of Cape Town, jointly supervised by UCT and UWC professors, and an M(Ed) from the University of Botswana. Her research interest lies on the use of emerging technologies to transform teaching and learning in Higher Education, with a particular focus on social justice education.

Seminar Sessions in 2015


7 October with Sibusiso Ndlangamandla

Ac Lit Forum_invite_7Oct


Behind the PhD: A reflexive account of writing the thesis

Sibusiso Ndlangamandla, Unisa

My research focus was on postgraduate research writing in a South African Open Distance Learning (ODL) context. The process of doing research can be filled with changes in personal circumstances, identity shifts, and epistemological transitions, among other things. This paper seeks to discuss the process of conducting research in a unique Police discipline, context and culture. It describes my pre-conceptions and documents some of the experiences during the research, and explains the motivations for selecting analytical tools, frameworks and models that eventually formed part of the thesis. My pre-understanding of research in the policing context was based on my knowledge of Applied Linguistics. Having identified a  problem of ‘discourse clashes’ in the proposals due to the influences from students professional backgrounds, I began to engage in ethnographic methods, such as, the participant observation of workshops and visiting students in their homes, and workplaces. I will reflect on the process of collecting data and data analysis. I kept on journaling some of the experiences when interviewing students and conducting participant observation during workshops with the students. In this paper, I will revisit some of the ‘reflexive journaling’ to explain how they influenced the analytical frameworks, research methodology and the final thesis. In hindsight, these led me to develop an interest on social practices and how they may influence the composition of texts; for instance, the relationship between Fairclough’s tripartite model (1992), and ethnographic framing, both of which are depicted in the sequencing of the final PhD dissertation as one of the illustrations of how the thesis was shaped for assessment. This research shows how various theoretical perspectives can be harnessed to understand how police workplace knowledge impacts on academic literacies and disciplinary practices of the proposal in the ODL context.

JUNE (Launch)

3 June 2016 with Vera Frith

Ac Lit Forum_invite_final_4May


What is quantitative literacy and why worry about it?

Vera Frith, University of Cape Town

In this presentation I will discuss the meaning of the term “quantitative literacy” and how this literacy fits into the spectrum of academic literacies. I will use examples from learning materials and from student writing to illustrate the importance of paying attention to the development of this literacy and I will discuss some of the challenges we encounter in our attempts to do so.

In the Numeracy Centre at UCT we view quantitative literacy as social practice and situate it under the broad umbrella of the academic literacies. Formally we use the following definition: Quantitative literacy (or academic numeracy) is the ability to manage situations or solve problems in practice, and involves responding to quantitative (mathematical and statistical) information that may be presented verbally, graphically, in tabular or symbolic form. It requires the activation of a range of enabling knowledge, behaviours and processes and it can be observed when it is expressed in the form of a communication, in written, oral or visual mode.

Our definition emphasises that communication of quantitative ideas using different modes is an essential component of numerate practice. Given that numeracy practice is embedded in academic discourse and language is integral to any discourse, the development of numeracy cannot be disentangled from language development. This has led to a collaboration which includes colleagues in the Language Development Group in teaching and research into academic literacies in science

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