TESOL, AAAL and AERA – spring conference round-up from MM

For the Multilingual Matters/Channel View team, April has been a busy month and there have been just 2 days when we’ve all been in the office together. Those blog readers who also follow our Facebook page will have seen photos from Sarah and Elinor’s trip to the London Book Fair and a selection from our US conference travels, an annual highlight on our travel calendar.

This year’s arrangements involved a lot of juggling and complicated logistics due to the clash of the annual AAAL and AERA conferences but thankfully both we and all our books and display materials made it to all intended destinations!  Mine and Tommi’s first destination was Baltimore, where the TESOL convention was being held.

Laura, Ron Darvin, Bonny Norton and Tommi

One of the highlights of our time in Baltimore was the lunch we hosted to celebrate our author, Bonny Norton, and Ron Darvin being co-awarded the 2016 TESOL Award for Distinguished Research.

For Tommi, it was then onwards to meet Anna in Orlando, where the two of them represented Multilingual Matters at AAAL.  As usual the conference was extremely busy for us and both new and older titles proved to be extremely popular at our stand. Of the older titles, Blommaert’s Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes proved to be enduringly popular and was the best-seller overall.  It was closely followed by the new titles Emotion and Discourse in L2 Narrative Research by Matthew T. Prior, Positive Psychology in SLA edited by Peter D. MacIntyre, Tammy Gregersen and Sarah Mercer and Literacy Theories for the Digital Age by Kathy A. Mills.

Meanwhile, I was at AERA in Washington, where Kathy A. Mills conducted a book signing at our stand for the book, which was by far the most popular title there. It was great to see readers meeting the author and having the opportunity to talk about the work with the author in person.

Laura Longworth at the Longworth House Office Building in Washington

After the conference I enjoyed a morning exploring Washington and found that there is a Longworth House Office there.  A rather surprised worker in the building kindly took a photo of me to mark the discovery!

Tommi then returned to Washington, where he and I had some meetings. A highlight was the visit to the CAL offices where we met with Terry Wiley and his colleagues to discuss the new book series we are working on together with CAL. The series is due to launch later this year when we expect to be publishing the first book, written by Sarah Shin. Watch this space for more information… While there we also enjoyed many conversations with members of the CAL community and finding out more about the work they do.

All in all, April was a very hectic month for us all and we’re still very busy catching up and of course publishing more books – 12 more to come over the next two months! Keep your eye on our blog, Facebook page and Twitter account for further details. Next stop for us on the conference trail will be the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Murcia. We hope to see you there!


Literacy Theories for the Digital Age

This month we published Kathy Mills’ new book Literacy Theories for the Digital Age. Here’s a post about the book from the author.

Don’t Read

this Blog!


You little rebel. I like you.

Let me tell you a few stories from ‘behind the scenes” of my new book: Literacy Theories for the Digital Age: Social, Critical, Multimodal, Spatial, Material and Sensory Lenses. Printed just in time for Christmas 2015, this book will encourage education academics, PhD students, teachers and other curious readers to see literacy differently.

The distinguished Professor Allan Luke once said to me, “You know, Kathy, there is always one person in the world who will read your book”.

He continued, “…your mum”.

It’s true. My mum, Marie Seltenrych, who is also an author, has always been my biggest fan.

The book navigates a vital collection of theories that have transformed conventional notions of alphabetic literacy.

Drawing from fields that include social theory, cultural geography, cultural anthropology and philosophy, I demonstrate how literacy is much more than the human behaviours of reading and writing of words.

There are six essential theories, but I’ll jump here to my favourite, the sixth – sensory literacies.

The hierarchisation of the senses in Western cultures has privileged visual conceptions of literacy, when in fact, humans communicate through multiple sensorium of the body.

From the ancient cuneiform of Sumarians in Mesopotamia to the weaving of “talking knots” by quipu, from the Inca Empire literacy, literacy is a richly sensorial practice (See David Howes preface to the book).

From tablet touch screens, to motion-sensing video games, I argue that literacy involves the engagement of the whole body, breath, haptics, and even locomotion.

We have a plethora of digital technologies that accentuate this principle.

Literacy Theories for the Digital AgeIt was actually during the writing of the “Sensory Literacies” chapter of the new book– which is essentially about the entanglement of the body and the senses in literacy practices – that I started to notice how much I need to eat when I write. It helps my brain.

I eat to avoid writer’s block – yes, the block that morphs into a delicious block of chocolate on the desk. Some of my writer’s block fragments into dozens of stray chocolate particles that reappear across the surface of the keyboard for days afterwards (along with the ants).

I also consumed an awful lot of caffeine. No coffee = no workee.

People say that academics need to “brand themselves”. What is my brand? How does my book reflect my brand?

Apparently, your brand name should be the colour of your pants, plus what you last ate. In my case, my brand would have to be “Denim Blue Cookies and Cream Protein Bar – Australian made”.

Lucky it’s morning tea time, as a few hours ago, my brand would have been “Red scrambled eggs”. Meh.

The hardest thing about writing this book was the editing. Why? Well, let me tell you, when present, past and future walk into a book, boy, it gets tense.

You might wonder about why I chose such a long title of my book: Literacy Theories for the Digital Age: Social, Critical, Multimodal, Spatial, Material and Sensory Lenses.

It’s a long title, but it’s better than short book titles. For example, what about Stop Arguing by Xavier Breath, or I Hit the Wall by Isadore There. My book title is a whole lot better than Geology by Roxanne Minerals.

I chose the title because even though it’s so long that I have to “google it” to remember it:

  1. What you see is what you get – you don’t need to read the contents page, saving energy for the reader.
  2. Search engine strategy – all the key words are in the title – can’t miss it.
  3. Because everyone says “choose a short and memorable title”.

Like you, I’m a rebel.

Literacy Theories for the Digital AgeIf you would like more information please see our website. You might also be interested in Kathy’s previous book The Multiliteracies Classroom.