Sensory Literacies: The role of the senses in new literacy practices
The social turn in the new literacy studies is well-established after a considerable history of struggle for recognition. The sensory turn is only just beginning to open up the possibilities for transforming literacy research in education. Sensory literacies is an original theory proposed by the author that foregrounds the forgotten role of the body and the senses in literacy practices. It builds on emergent theories stemming from the history and cultural anthropology of the senses.
Previous conceptions of literacy have focused on the visual-linguistic representations of meanings in texts and literacy practices, which is associated historically with ocularcentrism - the dominance and privileging of the visual - across many disciplines in Western societies. This presentation opens up a revitalized understanding of literacy practices as interrelated with the other senses, involving an expanded sensorium that includes movements of the hands, feet and body, as well as other senses in concert. The author will be drawing on her research with Indigenous and non-Indigenous school communities in Australia, interpreting students’ embodied sense-making activity across a range of literacy practices.
Kathy A. Mills is Professor of Literacies and Digital Cultures at the Learning Sciences Institute Australia, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane. Her contribution to multimodal literacies research has attracted two prestigious national fellowships from the Australian Research Council, and most recently Mills has forged a new sensory literacies approach in educational research. Professor Mills has published over 75 works in total, including 5 sole-authored books and over 40 scholarly book chapters and journal articles in periodicals that include Review of Educational Research, Written Communication, the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Language and Education, and Linguistics and Education. Her 2016 book, Literacy Theories for the Digital Age was awarded the Edward B. Fry Book Award in 2016 by the Literacy Research Association, USA.