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Professor Julia Gillen

Professor of Literacy Studies

Julia Gillen

County South



Tel: +44 1524 510830

Office Hours:

Please  contact me on Teams or by email j.gillen@lancaster.ac.uk to arrange an appointment.  

Research overview

I am exploring and expanding the boundaries of literacy studies. 

I work with contemporary and historical topics. My main contemporary interests are related to the digital literacy practices of very young children in the home and research mobilities in primary literacy education.

I aim to expand understandings of the relationship of language with multimodality,including through combining study of contemproary media with early twentieth century literacy practices, especially writing on the Edwardian Postcard. I was recently Co-Investigator in two  ESRC projects relating to deaf multiliteracies in India, Ghana and Uganda and am continuing to write up that work. I was formerly Co-Chair of Working Group 1 Children in Homes and Communities in the COST IS1640 Action The Digital Literacy and Multimodal Practices of Young Children (DigiLitEY), a member of the management committee and leader of the Day in the Digital Life of children aged 0-3 research strand.

I am the director of the Edwardian Postcard project, having  held a FASS impact award and completed an AHRC Creative Exchange mini project.  We are constructing a more interactive website and engaging in other activities to connect with family and local history audiences as well as museums and e-heritage users. I am currently completing a monograph. 

See also the Day in the Life project website for my involvement with a continuing international programme of inter-generational research. 

My (2014) book, Digital Literacies, consolidates empirical and theoretical interests in recent work including on Twitter as a professional practice and online ethnography.  Earlier, my research on children and teenagers learning in formal and informal settings including in virtual worlds featured in this book and its associated  ESRC seminar series


I am Professor of Literacy Studies in the Department of Linguistics and English Language and I am currently Associate Dean, Engagement in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, I was formerly a Director of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre.

I am also a member of the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning.



I am co-editor of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy and on the editorial board of Thinking Skills and Creativity.

Professional Associations and External Examining

Member of: American Educational Research Association; the (US based) Literacy Research Assocation, the British Association of Applied Linguistics; the UK Literacy Association and the Royal Historical Society. I have acteed as an External Examiner for PhDs, including at the Universities of Auckland, Durham, Manchester Metropolitan University, New Brunswick,  Open University, Oslo. I have previously acted as an external examiner for the MA Education: Technology, Creativity and Thinking at Exeter University, the MA in Creativities, Literacies and Learning at the University of Nottingham and undergraduate courses in linguistics, language and communication at York St John University. 

External Roles

 I review proposals for several different international funding councils and occasionally chair panels. 

Member, AHRC Peer Review College, June 2014 - December 2021.

Co-editor, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 2007-present.

I was co-chair Working Group 1 (Digital Literacy in Homes and Communities) of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Programme The Digital Literacy and Multimodal Practices of Young Children (DigiLitEY) June 2017 - April 2019 and led the "Day in the Digital Lives of Children 0-3" research strand of WG1.

Assessor for Learning Technologies Design for Impact SBRI competition with Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK). 2014

Honorary Research Associate, School of Graduate Studies, University of New Brunswick, Canada. (2011-2014)

Assessment and Qualifications Authority HE expert panel member advising on GCSE ‘A’ level: English Language and English Language & Literature. 2012-2014

Evaluator, Digital Futures in Teacher Education (DeFT) project - Sheffield Hallam & Sheffield Universities.  (2011-2012)

External consultant, Mixed Reality Interactions Across Contexts of Learning (MIRACLE) project, InterMedia, University of Oslo. (2010-2014)

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