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Dr Anita Wilson

Formerly at Lancaster University

PhD supervision

Prison Education

Qualitative and Ethnographic Studies in Criminal Justice Settings

Literacies in Social Context

Current Teaching

Convenor of distance learning MALNE Module 'Literacies and Learning in Criminal Justice Settings' (start dates January 2006/January 2007)

PhD Supervisor 'Exploring Textually Mediated Insitutional Space: Prison , Hostels and Beyond (2006 - )

PhD Supervisor 'True Stories and LIttle Fictions: an exloration of law students' negotiation of Law School discourse' (awarded 2005)

PhD Examiner

Research Interests

Anita is a prison ethnographer whose general interests include all aspects of literacy-oriented activities, practices and artefacts within custodial settings. She recently completed a Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellowship (USA) which looked at how policy and practice impacts on the efficacy of prison education as it is 'lived out' on a day to day basis. Her doctoral thesis Reading a Library - Writing a Book: The Significance of Literacies for the Prison Community proposes that people in prison live in a 'third space' community, socialising the institutional in order to retain a sense of personal rather than prison identity. Her research maintains a strong focus on the ethics of working in constrained and sensitive settings, taking an ethnographic stance, and placing collaboration and the prisoners' voice at the centre of every project. She tutors one Module on the distance MA in ALNE and is linked to a number of NRDC projects. She is currently undertaking post-disciplinary work alongside colleagues from Geography on an AHRC-funded project 'Visual Imprints on the Prison Landscape' which looks at the ways in which prisoners 'write themselves' on to the prison environment as a way of combating the pressures of institutionalisation. Personal web page.

Additional Information


Improving the literacy and numeracy of young offenders and disaffected young people: Final report (co-authored with J Hurry et al) NRDC (forthcoming)


Literacy and Numeracy needs of Disaffected young people (co-authored with J. Hurry, et al) in Tracking Adult Literacy and Numeracy: Longitudinal Studies of Adult Education (eds S Reder & J. Bynner) Routledge USA



2007 'I go to get away from the cockroaches':Educentricity and the politics of education in prisons (2) Journal of Correctional Education Vol 58 No.2 June 2007


2007 'From sit down and read that' to 'What we readin' next week Miss?'; Encouraging reluctant young readers to read for pleasure in a prison setting (Paul Hamlyn Trust/Trust for the Study of Adolescence)


2006 'Engaging People in Change: Creative arts interventions with marginalised groups' pub. Doncaster Community Arts ISBN 978-0-9552713-0.4


2006 'Talking about Trailblazers: Young men's comments and evaluation of the Trailblazers Mentoring Project at HMP Aylesbury' Trust for the Study of Adolescence



2005 Improving the literacy and numeracy needs of disaffected people in custody and in the community: the first 18 months (co-authored with J. Hurry et al) NRDC


2005 New ways of engaging new learners: lessons from round one of the practitioner-led research initiative (co-authored with M Hamilton) NRDC


2005 'Auld Frankie Vaughan was swingin' his grin up by the Drummy while Clint Easterhoose was slinging his thing on the silver screen. Acid drops in the rain of the summer of blood. So cool it was fuckin' freezin' man!' - Creativity in language as a strategy for survival' in 'Creativity in the English Language' ed J. Maybin, Open University Press


2004 Four Days and a Breakfast - Time, Space and Literacy/ies in the Prison Community' in Space Matters: Assertions of Space in Literacy Practice and Research, eds Leander K. & Sheehy M.,

pub. Peter Lang, USA


2004 'I go to get away from the cockroaches: Educentricity and the politics of Education in Prisons' in Identity, Agency and Social Institutions in Educational Ethnography in Studies in Educational Ethnography, eds Troman G, Jeffrey B, Walford G pub. Jai Press, Oxford, UK


2004 Last week I wrote a letter for an illiterate guy to his Mum ... he wanted to pay me some roll-up tobacco or chocolate but I told him to get me an envelope and a carrier bag to put my sewing in: The normalisation of reciprocity in the prison setting in Scottish Youth Issues Journal Vol. 8 Summer 2004


2003 'Reading a library - Writing a book' prisoners' engagement with texts' BERA 2002 conference paper, http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00002546.htm


2003 'Nike Trainers - My One True Love, Without You I am Nothing' in Discourse Constructions of Youth Identity, ed. Androutopolous J. and Georgakopoulo A., pub. J. Benjamin 'Pragmatics and Beyond' Series


2003 Researching in the Third Space - Locating, Claiming and Valuing the Research Domain, in Language, Literacy and Education: A Reader, eds. Lillis T. & Maybin J., Open University Press


2003 'Research in Transition: Implications for Policy, Practice and People' in Transitions: People, Policies and Practices, Conference Proceedings and Collected Papers, International Corrections and Prisons Association, Ottawa, Canada


2002 Understanding and Working with Women in Custody: Multi-Disciplinary Training Programme for Custodial and Non-Custodial Staff , HM Prison Service/Trust for the Study of Adolescence (Training Pack - Crown Copyright)


2002 Reading a Library - Writing a Book: Prisoners' Day to

Day Engagement with Literacy/ies, International Forum on Correctional Systems Australia (Compact Disc)

2000 There's no escape from Third-Space Theory - Borderland Discourse and the In-Between Literacies of Prison' in Situated Literacies, eds Barton D., Hamilton M., Ivanic R., pub. Routledge


2000 co-authored with Dennison C. & Lyon J. 'Tell Them So They Listen: Messages from Young People in Custody' Home Office Research Study 201, Her Majesty's Stationery Office


1999 'Absolute Truly Brill to See from You Again' - Visuality and Prisoners' Letters' in Letter-Writing as Social Practice, eds. Barton D. & Hall N., pub J. Benjamins

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