Research Staff Interests

Prof Kate  Pahl


Kate studied English at Cambridge and then was an outreach worker in adult literacy, employed by the Council for Racial Equality in London for many years. Her PhD was on literacy practices in homes, with anthropologist Brian Street at King’s College, London. Her research has been concerned with literacy practices in communities, drawing on arts and humanities methodologies. She has been involved with many projects funded through the AHRC Connected Communities programme including, 'Writing in the home and in the street', 'Language as Talisman', 'Transmitting Musical Heritage', 'Communicating Wisdom' Co-producing Legacy, 'Imagine' and 'Taking Yourself Seriously'. All of these projects have been co-produced with community partners and have involved drawing on the knowledge within communities to work together to produce living knowledge.

Her publications have drawn on literary theory, New Literacy Studies and social anthropology and her research continues to explore the intersections between arts methodologies and community cohesion. Her book on literacy practices in Rotherham, 'Materializing Literacies in Communities' (2014) is published by Bloomsbury Academic.

Research Interests

  • New Literacy Studies
  • Community studies
  • Co-production
  • Arts methodologies
  • Poetry
  • Literary theory
  • Everyday knowledge
  • Social cohesion
  • Critical race theory
  • New materialism

Research Groups

Theory, Methodology and Knowledge Production
Children, Young People and Community

Research Projects

Feeling Odd in the World of Education
PI Rachel Holmes, Co-Is Kate Pahl, Amanda Ravetz, Becky Shaw

'Taking Yourselves Seriously’: Artistic Approaches to Social Cohesion (PI)
with Zanib Rasool and Andrew McMillan (Co-Is)
in collaboration with ARVAC
Feb 2017-Jan 2018
AHRC Connected Communities Follow on funding £78,895

Ways of Neighbourhood Working and Knowing
(Co-I) Antonia Layard (PI) and Sue Brownhill, Craig Watkins, Simon Davoudi & Helen Graham
in collaboration with the DCLG
ESRC Seminar Series £26,560

Co-producing Legacy(PI)
with Amanda Ravetz, Helen Graham & Steve Pool (Co-Is)
1st February 2014-end January 2015
AHRC Connected Communities Development grant £80,310

Project Websites

Taking Yourself Seriously

Ways of Neighbourhood Working and Knowing



Campbell, E., Pahl, K., Pente, E. and Rasool, Z. (2018) Re-Imagining Contested Communities: Connecting Rotherham through research. Bristol: Policy press

Facer, K. and Pahl, K. (eds) (2017) Valuing Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research: Beyond Impact. Bristol: Policy Press

Rowsell, J. and Pahl, K. (eds) (2015) The Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies. London: Routledge

Pahl, K. (2014) Materializing Literacies in Communities: The 'Uses of Literacy' Revisited. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2012) Literacy and Education: The New Literacy Studies in the Classroom. 2nd Edition. London: Sage

Pahl, K and Rowsell, J. (eds) (2012) Major Works in Early Childhood Literacy Volumes 1-4. London: Sage.

Grenfell, M., Bloome, D., Hardy, C., Pahl, K., Rowsell, J. & Street B. V. (2012) Language, Ethnography and Education: Bridging New Literacy Studies and Bourdieu. New York: Routledge

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2010) Artifactual Literacies: Every object tells a story.. New York: Teachers College Press

Pahl, K. and Rowsell J. (eds) (2006) Travel Notes from the New Literacy Studies: Instances of Practice.. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2005) Literacy and Education: The New Literacy Studies in the Classroom.. London: Paul Chapman

Pahl, K. (1999) Transformations: Children's Meaning Making in a Nursery. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.

Refereed Journal Articles

Escott, H. & Pahl, K. (2017) Learning from Ninjas: young people's films as a lens for an expanded view of literacy and language. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education

Bell, D. & Pahl, K. (2017) Co-production: towards a utopian approach. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 21(1) pp 105-117

Hackett, A.C., Pahl, K. & Pool, S. (2017) In amongst the glitter and the squashed blueberries: Crafting a collaborative lens for children's literacy pedagogy in a community setting. Pedagogies: An International Journal 12(1) pp 58-73

Pahl, K. (2017) The University as the Imagined Other: Making Sense of Community Co-produced Literacy Research. Collaborative Anthropologies 8(1-2) pp 129-148

Marshall, B. & Pahl, K. (2015) Who owns educational research? Disciplinary conundrums and considerations. Qualitative Research Journal 15(4) pp 472-488

Flewitt, R., Pahl, K. & Smith, A. (2015) Methodology matters. Literacy 49(1) pp 1-2

McMillan, A. & Pahl, K. (2015) Writing Out The Loss: Intersections and Conversations Between Poetry and Ethnography. Argument and Critique April 2015

Burnett, C., Merchant, G., Pahl, K. & Rowsell, J. (2014) The (im)materiality of literacy: the significance of subjectivity to new literacies research. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 35(1) pp 90-103

Pahl, K. (2014) The Aesthetics of Everyday Literacies: home writing practices in a British Asian household. Anthropology and Education Quarterly 45(3) pp 293-311

Pahl, K., Steadman-Jones, R. & Pool, S. (2013) Dividing the Drawers. Creative Approaches to Research 6(1) pp 71-88

Pahl, K. (2012) Time and Space as a Resource for Meaning-Making by Children and Young People in Home and Community Settings. Global Studies of Childhood 2(3) pp 201-216

Pahl, K. (2012) Every object tells a story: Intergenerational Stories and Objects in the Homes of Pakistani Heritage Families in South Yorkshire, UK. Home Cultures 9(3) pp 303-328

Pahl, K. (2012) "A Reason to Write" Exploring writing epistemologies in two contexts. Pedagogies: An International Journal 7(3) pp 209-228

Pahl, K. & Pool, S. (2011) 'Living your life because its the only life you’ve got': Participatory research as a site for discovery in a creative project in a primary school in Thurnscoe UK Qualitative Research Journal 11(2) pp 17-37

Pahl, K. & Rowsell, J. (2011) Artifactual critical literacy: A new perspective for literacy education. Berkeley Review of Education 2(2) pp 129-152

Dicks, B., Flewitt, R., Lancaster, L. & Pahl, K.(2011) Multimodality and ethnography: working at the intersection. Qualitative Research 11(3) pp 227-237

Pahl, K. & Allan C. (2011) I don't know what literacy is: Uncovering hidden literacies in a community library using ecological and participatory methodologies with children. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy 11(2) pp 190-213

Book Chapters

Pahl, K. (2017) Dialogic Objects: Material Knowledge as a Challenge to Educaitonal Practice, in D. Pillay, K. Pithouse-Morgan, & I. Naiker, (eds) Object Medleys: Interpretive Possibilities for Educational Research Rotterdam: Sense Publishers pp 29-44

Pahl, K. and Ward, P. (2017) Re-visioning exclusion in local communities, in Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart Bristol, UK: Policy Press pp 95-110

Pahl, K. Escott, H. Graham, H. Marwood, K. Pool, S. and Ravetz, A. (2017) What is the role of artists on Connected Communities projects? in K. Facer, and K. Pahl, (eds) (2017) Valuing Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research: Beyond Impact Bristol: Policy Press

Pahl, K and Pool, S (2017) Can We Fast Forward to the Good Bits? Working with Film: Revisiting in the Field of Practice, in Malik. S., Chapain, C. & Comunian, R (eds) Community Filmmaking: Diversity, Practices and Places London Routledge pp 245-262

Hall, M., Pahl, K. & Pool, S. (2015) Visual Digital Methodologies with Children and Young People: Perspectives from the Field, in E. Stirling and D. Yamada-Rice (eds) Visual Methods with Children and Young People: Academics and Visual industries in Dialogue Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan pp 164-185

Pool, S. & Pahl, K. (2015) The work of art in the age of mechanical co-production, in D. O'Brien & P. Mathews (eds) After Urban Regeneration: Communities Policy and Place Bristol: Policy Press pp 79-94

Pahl, K. (2015) Literacy in the Community: the Interpretation of "Local" Literacy Practices Through Ethnography, in P. Smeyers, D. Bridges, N. C. Burbules & M. Griffiths, (eds) International Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research Part 1 Heidleberg: Springer Dordrecht pp 399-422

Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2015) Classroom Case Studies: Artifactual Literacies in Action, in J. Larson & J. Marsh Making Literacy Real: Theories and Practices for Learning and Teaching London: Sage pp 99-106

Pahl, K. & Khan, A. (2015) Artifacts of Resilience: Enduring Narratives, Texts, Practices Across Three Generations, in Julian Sefton-Green and Jennifer Rowsell (eds) Learning and Literacy Over Time: Longitudinal Perspectives London: Routledge pp 116-133

Pahl, K. (2014) "Its about Living Your Life": Family Time and School Time as a resource for Meaning Making in Homes, Schools and Communities, in C. Compton-Lilly and E. Halverson (eds) Time and Space in Literacy Research New York and London: Routledge pp 47-62

Pahl, K. (2014) New literacy studies, in C. Leung and B. V. Street (eds) The Routledge Companion to English Studies London: Routledge pp 435-448

Pahl, K. & Rowsell, J. (2014) Artifactual Literacies, in P. Albers, T. Holbrook and A. Seely Flint (eds) New Methods of Literacy Research London: Routledge pp 163-176

Research Reports

Brooks, G., Pahl, K., Pollard, A. & Rees F. (2008) Effective and inclusive practices in family literacy, language and numeracy: a review of programmes and practice in the UK and internationally NRDC research report with CfBT

Hannon, P., Pahl, K., Bird, V., Taylor, C. & Birch, C. (2003) Community focused Provision in Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Language: An Exploratory Study. London: NRDC Publications. 30 pages

Journal & Book Series Editorships & Editorial Board Membership

On the Editorial boards for:
Journal of Literacy Research Literacy
Journal of Early Childhood Literacy

Keynote Addresses or Prestigious Public Lectures

Keynote invited speaker: Re-thinking literacy ontologies with young people in communities for the Literacy and Contemporary Society: Spaces, Discourses, practices conference 28-29 November 2017 Nicosia, Cyprus.

Keynote invited speaker for a symposium titled Child and Youth Engagement, Civic Literacies and Digital Ecologies at Brock from October 10-11, 2017.

'Not Just an Object': Making meaning of and from everyday objects in educational research. Invited keynote, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa February 2016

Invited Keynote at the launch of the Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre (CASIC) Keele University October 2015

Invited keynote on What do we do when we don't agree: Making Divergent Ways of Knowing Come Alive at UEA, AHRC Connected Communities conference, Norwich, UK

Evidence of Impact on Policy and Professional Practice

Policy briefing from the 'Imagine' project for the Select Committee on citizenship and civic engagement available on the House of Lords website view here

Policy Briefing from the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project - written evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Civic Engagement and Citizenship view here

Advised the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on the Women's Empowerment Fund.

International Recognition

'Experienced researcher' EU funded fellowship on the Makerspaces in the early years: Enhancing Digital Literacy and Creativity project (MakeEY), a 30 month project funded by the EU H2020 Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) programme. This runs from January 2017-June 2019. The project funds one month working with Professor Jennifer Rowsell, at Brock University, Canada, to research children's digital literacy and creative design skills. PI Jackie Marsh, University of Sheffield.

Funded as a visiting scholar by the Culture, Media, Language and Literacy group at Teachers College, Columbia, to give two talks, one for the Youth, Media and Education Justice group and one on multimodality for the CMLL group, invited by Lalitha Vasudevan from Teachers College, Columbia, NYC in March 2015.

2014 Fully funded for one month as a Category 1 Visiting Scholar at Monash University, Australia. Invited to present on Materializing Literacies in Communities: the Uses of Literacy Revisited and provide research direction and strategy as well as seminars While there, I worked with scholars at the University of Melbourne, RMIT and gave an invited seminar at the University of Victoria on arts methods in educational research.

Research-based Contributions to Practitioner and Academic Conferences

How Can the Arts Benefit Literacy Development in Community Settings? Invited Session Literacy Research Association Conference Carlsbad CA December 2015

Funded by the NCRLL to attend the Literacy Research Association Conference in Florida December 2014 to present a paper for A Conversation on the Future of Literacy Research - International Perspectives on the Social Turn in the Study of Literacy


Representation, The Artist and Community: Collective Conversations Cardiff Story Museum June 2016 (AHRC)

Cultural and Strengthening Communities Talk for ESRC funded event on 'The State of Social Capital in Britain' Organised by Understanding Society and held at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, London November 2015

Perspectives on Artefacts workshop funded by the Swedish-South African research initiation programme, UCL, London 2015

The Future of Community/University Relationships ARVAC, Manchester, GMCVO seminar Manchester April 2015

The role of artists in community projects Productive Margins Forum, Cardiff January 2015 (AHRC)

Teaching Interests

  • Co-production
  • Collaborative research,
  • Literacy studies
  • Arts methodologies

Areas of Post-graduate Supervision

  • Arts methodologies
  • Social cohesion
  • Literacy and language
  • Co-production, community

Position/Post: Head of ESRI
Location: Brooks Building
Twitter: @katepahl