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Professor David Barton

Professor, Emeritus

David Barton

County South

Lancaster University


Lancaster LA1 4YL

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 510823


Research overview

All aspects of language online, including the interaction of words and images, multilingual issues, changes to vernacular practices and learning.

PhD supervision

Language Online. Local literacies; Vernacular literacies; Ethnographic studies of literacy practices in communities, workplaces, educational settings and online; The textually mediated social world; Adult literacy education; The language practices of Web2 sites such as Flickr.

Current Teaching

Undergraduate: Language in the media.

MA: Digital Language and Literacies

MA and PhD: Qualitative Research Methods

Research Interests

I am Professor of Language and Literacy and now 'Life President' of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre www.literacy.lancs.ac.uk. I am currently interested in all aspects of language online, including the interaction of words and images, multilingual issues, changes to vernacular practices and learning. In February 2015 we have started a 2 year ESRC project on Academics Writing. I am also writing about methodology, especially ethnographic approaches to literacy research. Also language and photography.


The book Researching Language in Social Media by Ruth Page, David Barton, Michelle Zappavigna and Johann Unger was published by Routledge in 2014.

The book Language Online by David Barton and Carmen Lee was published by Routledge in 2013.

The book Local literacies by David Barton and Mary Hamilton was re-issued in 2012 as a Routledge Linguistics Classic with a new overview chapter. 

The Anthropology of Writing: Understanding textually mediated worlds edited by David Barton and Uta Papen and published by Continuum is now available in paperback. Download the first chapter.

I enjoyed writing a paper on being stranded by the volcanic ash cloud in April 2010: Barton, D. (2011) People and technologies as resources in times of uncertainty.Mobilities,6(1) 57-65.

My book Literacy has been published in Greek by Papazisi publishers, Athens and was published in Korean by Honsei University Press in 2014. 

And a couple of other recent papers:

Barton , D. 2015. Tagging on Flickr as a Social Practice. in Jones, R. Chik, A. & Hafner, C. (Eds.) Discourse and Digital Practices: Doing discourse analysis in the digital age. London: Routledge.

Barton, D. & Lee, C. 2012, Redefining Vernacular Literacies in the Age of Web 2.0, Applied Linguistics. 33, 3, p. 282-298.

Barton, D. 2012, Participation, deliberate learning and discourses of learning online, Language and Education. 26, 2, p. 139-150.

My Literacies book series with Routledge is thriving, the latest volume being Digital Literacies by Julia Gillen.

Additional Information


  • Researching Language in Social Media. Routledge, 2014. (with Ruth Page, Michelle Zappavigna and Johann Unger).
  • Language Online: Investigating digital texts and practices. Routledge 2013. (with Carmen Lee.)
  • The Anthropology of Writing: Understanding textually-mediated worlds. Continuum, 2010. (edited with Uta Papen.)
  • Improving Learning in College. Routledge, 2009. (written with lots of other people, especially Roz Ivanic.)
  • Responding to People's Lives. Leicester: NIACE, 2008. (with Y. Appleby)
  • Literacy, Lives and Learning. Routledge, 2007. (with R. Ivanic, Y. Appleby, R. Hodge, K. Tusting)
  • Literacy: an introduction to the ecology of written language, Blackwell, 2nd edition, 2007
  • Models of Adult Learning, Leicester: NIACE, 2006. (with K. Tusting)
  • Beyond Communities Of Practice: Language, Power And Social Context. Cambridge University Press, 2005. (ed. with K. Tusting)
  • Letter writing as a social practice, John Benjamins, 2000. (ed. with N. Hall)
  • Situated Literacies Routledge, 2000. (ed. with Mary Hamilton and Roz Ivanic)
  • Local Literacies: Reading and writing in one community, Routledge, 1998. (with Mary Hamilton)
  • Worlds of literacy (co-editor, Multilingual Matters, 1994)
  • Sustaining local literacies (editor, Multilingual Matters, 1994)
  • Writing in the community (co-editor, Sage, 1992)

See also the publications page of the Literacy Research Centre, http://www.literacy.lancs.ac.uk/resources/publications.htm

And please note that the NRDC Reports listed under eprints can be downloaded here

D. Barton, K. Tusting, R. Hodge & Y. Appleby, (2008) Learners' experience of work. London: National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC).

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