Postponed Symposium: Friday January 29th 2021

We are pleased to announce that the December Symposium (postponed due to unforeseen circumstances) will now take place on Friday 29th January 2021. All are welcome to attend, even if you did not sign up for the original event. We are fortunate that both our plenary speakers, Juliet Henderson and Zoe Nikolaidou will be presenting and the programme is scheduled to go ahead more or less unchanged. If you’ve already signed up we will be contacting you to find out whether you still plan to attend. Please click to review abstracts and the draft programme for the day. The event consists of an asynchronous build-up where contributions will be available in advance of the Symposium and everyone will be able to engage asynchronously through comments on a Padlet wall. Those who sign up will be sent a link to the event page. On the day itself, there will be plenty of time to revisit contributions, but in parallel sessions the focus will be on discussion rather than presentation.

To sign up for the event, please register by emailing Giovanna Battiston at and Jackie Tuck at with the following information:

Name (inc title)  
Tel. contact (in case of IT issues on the day)   
Do you give permission to share your name, affiliation and email address with other participants? 
Do you require a certificate of attendance? 
Are you a member of BAAL? 
Do you have any additional [online] requirements we should know about?  

Reading Group – online event 17th July 2020

This was PAWBL’s first reading group and it ran asynchronously via email for a week culminating in synchronous discussion on 17th July. We discussed: Blommaert, J. and Horner, B. (2017) Mobility and academic literacies: an epistolary conversation. London Review of Education 15 (1): 2 – 20.

A summary of the discussion can be found here

British Association of Applied Linguistics

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

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

Programme & Registration information

Talk Abstracts

The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Friday, 6th December 2019 11.00 am – 4.30 pm

Plenary speakers: 

Dr Karin Tusting, Lancaster University

Prof. Theresa Lillis, Open 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 plenary talks, 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.

Deadline for registration (see Registration form for details): 11th November 2019

Please send your registration form to Victoria Odeniyi:

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

Symposium venue:

Central Meeting Rooms 15, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes. For a map and directions 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.