UKLA 55th International Conference 2019

Literacy and Play for All: Improvisation, possibility and imagination

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July 2019

UKLA 55th International Conference 2019

Submit a paper  Deadline 31 December 2018.

Confirmed speakers: Chris Riddell, Writer and Illustrator; Anne Haas Dyson, University of Illinois, USA; Andrew Burn, University College London; Lalitha Vasudevan, Columbia University, USA.

In an age of accountability, it can be hard to make room for play in education, and yet at all ages it is through play that we experiment, take risks, generate meanings and negotiate our relationships with others and the world around us. Play can also have a disruptive influence, unsettling power relations and challenging convention, and is often characterised by qualities that do not always fit easily with educational frameworks,
such as movement, unpredictability and humour.

In this conference, through reflecting on research and practice, we will consider literacy in relation to play and playfulness. We will explore, for example, the linguistic and textual play that is at the heart of composition; the improvisational storying that emerges in imagined worlds; the free-flowing movements across media that characterise literacies in everyday life; and the playful pedagogies that work responsively with learners’ meaning-making.

By making space for play, this conference will invite delegates to consider the relationships between play, language and literacy. It will explore how, as teachers, researchers and literacy advocates, we can enable others to improvise and to imagine. It will also make space for delegates themselves to improvise, imagine and play with new possibilities.

We invite proposals for workshopsresearch papers and symposia on these and other topics. We encourage those who wish to be playful with approaches to presenting and involving participants. Please note, we are also playing with the format this year, and individual research papers may be grouped into sessions.

We invite all those currently engaged in postgraduate programmes of research (Masters, EdD, PHD) to contribute to our Postgraduate Research Student Slam which will feature brief presentations of work in progress.

Keynote Speakers

Friday 12 July 2019

Lalitha Vasudevan: Lalitha is Professor of Technology and Education and Director of theMedia and Social Change Lab (MASCLab)atTeachers College, Columbia University. She also serves as Vice Chair for the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, is affiliated faculty in the Programs in Anthropology at Teachers College, and has held appointments at the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute of Education at the University College London.Her work examines literacy, communicative, and media practices of youth across a variety of settings and brings attention to the role of technology in their educational trajectories and wellbeing. She has done research with adolescents in classrooms, afterschool programs, detention facilities, and in the context of social service organisations; conducted professional development with K-12 teachers about the integration of technology and media into their pedagogy; and maintains long-term research-practice partnerships with organisations that are committed to improving the life chances for youth. 

Panel Chaired by Rebecca Parry: details to come

Saturday 13 July 2019

Anne Haas Dyson: Anne is a former teacher of young children and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Among her previous appointments was as a longtime professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award. She has spent over 35 years studying the childhood cultures and literacy learning of young schoolchildren, for which she has received numerous awards. Dyson aims, first, to bring respect and intellectual attention to childhood cultures and their relationship to school learning. Young children do not participate in school because they are concerned about the national economy, international competition, or climbing a ladder to academic accolades from a grateful nation. They desire to make sense of their world and to gain companionship in what can be a confusing world. Second, she aims to document the diversity of resources (languages, popular culture texts, semiotic tools, everyday experiences) our diverse school children bring with them with which to participate intellectually and socially in school, especially in written language development. Her newest publications are both Spencer-funded: ReWRITING the basics: Literacy learning in children’s cultures (2013) and, published in 2016, Child cultures, schooling, and literacy: Global perspectives on children composing their lives.

Chris Riddell: Chris, the 2015-2017 UK Children’s Laureate, is an accomplished artist and the political cartoonist for the Observer. He has enjoyed great acclaim for his books for children. His books have won a number of major prizes, including the 2001, 2004 and 2016 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals.Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse won the Costa Children’s Book Award 2013. His work for Macmillan also includes the bestselling Ottoline books,The Emperor of Absurdia, and, with Paul Stewart, the Muddle Earth books, the Scavenger series and the Blobheads series. Chris lives in Brighton with his family.

Sunday 14 July 2019

Andrew Burn: Andrew is Professor of English, Media and Drama at the UCL Institute of Education, and director of the DARE research centre (Digital|Arts|Research|Education) He was for 24 years a secondary teacher of English, Media and Drama.He has researched and published work on many aspects of the media arts, including young people’s production of digital media such as computer games, digital video and animation. He has directed two large projects on children’s playground games with the University of Sheffield, the British Library and the Bodleian Library. He has spoken on media education, arts education, literacy and games at conferences throughout Europe as well as elsewhere in the world. His books include Making New Media: creative production and digital literacies (New York: Peter Lang); Media Literacy in Schools: Practice, Production, Progression (London: Sage); and Children’s Games in the New Media Age (Farnham: Ashgate). Personal website:

The Call for Papers is now open - submit a paper here. Deadline 31 December 2018.

UKLA will not be offering a residential package for this conference. If you wish to book accommodation for this conference, please visit the Sheffield Hallam accommodation webpage for special deals at nearby hotels.

To find out more about the city of Sheffield visit the Welcome to Sheffield website.

See the 2018 programme and brochure for a flavour of the UKLA International Conference

Call for Papers UKLA 55th International Conference

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Venue location

Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK S1 2LX

Event sponsors

Capita Reading Cloud
Just Imagine
Nosy Crow