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Professor Jennifer Rowsell

Professor Jennifer Rowsell

Professor Jennifer Rowsell
Bachelors, Masters, PhD

Professor in Education

Area of research

Professor of Literacies and Social Innovation

Office 1.13
35 Berkeley Square,
Clifton, Bristol
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 4400


Dr. Rowsell's research interests include multimodal, makerspace and arts-based research with young people; digital literacies research with children; digital divide work in international contexts; and, applying posthumanist and affect theoretical and methodological approaches to literacy research. Dr. Rowsell has worked and conducted research in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. She has written, co-written and co-edited twenty-five books on a range of topics from handbooks on literacy studies to multimodality to Bourdieusian approaches to ethnographic fieldwork. She is a co-editor of the Routledge Expanding Literacies in Education book series with Cynthia Lewis (University of California – Santa Cruz) and she is the Department Editor of Digital Literacies for The Reading Teacher.  



Younger generations engage in complex, hybrid literacy practices that call on design skills, creativity, participatory structures that compel them to make things all of the time. I harness my research to this love of making and innovating across media, viewing this multimodal creative work with or without technologies as an asset, as funds of knowledge that can and should inform literacy policy and pedagogy. My research projects, publications, and presentations over the past 20 years display a range of topics and approaches to the documentation of daily social practices and their applications for politics and policy in and around literacy and communication studies. 

Most recent publications:

Rowsell, J., McLean, C., & Marsh, J. (Eds). (In Preparation). Maker Literacies and Maker Identities in the Digital Age: Learning and Playing through Modes and Media.New York: Routledge.

Pahl, K. & Rowsell, J. with D. Collier, S. Pool, Z. Rasool and T. Trzecak. (2020). Living Literacies. Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Morrell, E. & Rowsell, J. (Eds.). (2019). Stories from Inequity to Justice in Literacy Education: Confronting Digital Divides. New York: Routledge. 

Bloome, D., Castanheira, M. L., Leung, C. & Rowsell, J. (Eds.). (2018). Re-Theorizing Literacy Practices: Complex Social and Cultural Contexts.New York, NY: Routledge.

Kucirkova, N., Rowsell, J., & Falloon, G. (Eds.). (2019). The Routledge International Handbook of Learning with Technology in Early Childhood.Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 

Journal Special Issues:

Peppler, K., Rowsell, J., Keune, A. (In Process). Advancing Post-Humanist Perspectives on Technology-Rich Learning. British Journal of Educational Technology. July 2020.

Ehret, C. & Rowsell, J. (Eds.). (In Preparation). Affect Theory in Literacy Research: Creating Coherence, Producing Difference. Reading Research Quarterly. March 2020.

Hauge, C., & Rowsell, J. (Eds.) (In Preparation). Child and Youth Engagement: Civic Literacies and Digital Ecologies. Discourse: Studies in Cultural Politics of Education, 41(5). October 2020. 

Hauge, C., & Rowsell, J. (Eds.) (2019). Politics of Literacy. Studies in Social Justice13(1), 1-170. 

 Journal Articles:

Gallagher, T., DiCesare, D., & Rowsell, J. (2019). Stories of Digital Lives and Digital Divides: Newcomer Families and their thoughts on Digital Literacy. The Reading Teacher, 72(6), 774-778. (Digital Literacy Column).

Rowsell, J., & Shillitoe, M. (2019). The Craftivists: Pushing for Affective, Materially Informed Pedagogy. Special Journal Issue of The British Journal of Educational Technology, Edited by Ty Hollett & Christian Ehret. Published online first

Hauge, C., & Rowsell, J. (2019). Why the Politics of Literacy? Introduction to Special Issue on the Politics of Literacy. Studies in Social Justice, 13(1), 1-9. 

Rowsell, J., Lemieux, A., Swartz, L., Turcotte, M., & Burkitt, J. (2018). The Stuff That Heroes Are Made Of: Elastic, Sticky, Messy Literacies in Children’s Transmedial Cultures. Language Arts, 96(1),7-20. 




I am interested in supervising PhD and Masters students in the following areas:

  • Research in literacy studies from socio-cultural and ethnographic perspectives
  • Youth engagement, arts methods, and civic participation
  • Studies with a posthumanist and socio-material lens on learning and teaching
  • Explorations of literacy that apply affect and post-structural theory
  • Digital literacies, makerspace, virtual reality, and AI research 
  • Cross-sector research that combines the strength of media, technology and arts professionals with educators
  • Projects that confront digital divides and explore activist, participatory approaches to teaching, learning and literacy
  • Media and critical literacy work within informal and formal learning contexts


  • Literacy
  • Affect
  • Multimodality
  • Social Innovation
  • Posthumanism
  • Ethnography


  • American Educational Research Association
  • Literacy Research Association
  • National Council of the Teachers of English
  • United Kingdom Literacy Association
  • Literacy and Language Researchers of Canada
  • Writing and Literacies SIG
  • Language and Social Processes SIG



Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Professor Rowsell currently teaches 8 courses:

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