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Professor Julia Gillen

Professor of Literacy Studies

Julia Gillen

County South



Tel: +44 1524 510830

Office Hours:

 My office hour for undergraduate or MA students is Wednesday 10am (except in week 10), when I am available on Teams.  Alternatively, 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 digital literacies. 

My main practical aim is to increase access to innovative and creative yet safe online spaces. My principle academic aim is to expand understandings of the relationship of language with multimodality,including through combining study of contemproary media with early twentieth century literacy practices. I also work with young deaf users of Sign Languages in marginalised communities in the Global South who are collaborating online to improve their English literacy.  I was recently 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 Co-Investigator in the ESRC/DFID project Transforming deaf learners' multiliteracies into sustainable educational approaches for 3 years from July 2017 following a one year pilot  ESCR/DFID project Literacy Development with deaf communities using sign language, peer tuition, and learner-generated online content: sustainable educational innovation

I am the director of the Edwardian Postcard project, having recently 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. 

My most recent book, Digital Literacies, consolidates empirical and theoretical interests in recent work including on Twitter as a professional practice and online ethnography.  My research on children and teenagers learning in formal and informal settings including in virtual worlds also features in this recent book and its associated  ESRC seminar series. See also the Day in the Life project website and this book, which has just been translated into Italian. I am also working with symbols of cultural identity in Hong Kong and Canada.


I am Professor of Literacy Studies in the Department of Linguistics and English Language and Director of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre. I am the  Institutional Academic Lead for Lancaster University in the North West Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership.

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


Peer Review College

I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College (June 2014 - December 2021).


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

Professional Associations and External Examining

Member of: American Educational Research Association; British Association of Applied Linguistics; the UK Literacy Association and the Royal Historical Society. I act as an External Examiner for PhDs, including at the Universities of Auckland, Durham, Manchester Metropolitan University, New Brunswick,  Open University, Oslo. I am external examiner for the MA Education: Technology, Creativity and Thinking at Exeter University and have previously acted as External Examiner for 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


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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