School of Education

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Susan Jones

Associate Professor in English Education, Faculty of Social Sciences



I have researched and published in the areas of language, literacy and cultural practices, with a particular focus on the way in which these relate to the agency and identities of individuals and communities.

I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (September 2021-August 2022) to explore links between amateur fibre crafts, such as knitting and crochet, and everyday meaning-making. My current research includes 'Knit and Matter', a British Academy funded project looking at the role of material in meaning-making through amateur fibre craft.

My previous research includes a British Academy funded ethnographic study of the everyday lives and literacy practices of families living on a Midlands council estate. This research was the focus of an article which won the Wiley-Blackwell Research in Literacy Education Award 2015 and a monograph: Portraits of Everyday Literacy for Social Justice: Reframing the Debate for Families and Communities (Palgrave).

I also work with Dr Kevin Harvey (School of English) and Dr David Peplow (Sheffield Hallam University) in convening a local shared reading group, based in Lenton. Further details about the group can be found here.

I teach on the BA Education and support postgraduate research students working for Masters, EdD and PhD. Having previously worked as a teacher of English in secondary schools in Derby and as a tutor in Children's Literature for the Open University, I have taught on postgraduate initial teacher education courses in secondary English, including PGCE and Schools Direct, as well as on the Postgraduate Certificate in Education Studies.

Expertise Summary

  • everyday arts and creative practice
  • everyday literacy
  • literacy education
  • English education (11-18)

Teaching Summary

BA Education: Literacy Learning and Education; Research Methodology and Design in Education, Dissertation

MA Education: Dissertation supervision

EdD and PhD supervision: literacy education, everyday creative and arts practice

Research Summary

Knit and Matter: material meaning making with amateur fibre craft (British Academy Small Research Grant, October 2022-December 2023)

Knitting is a popular everyday activity with a long history as a creative meaning making process through which makers explore and express what matters to them. The dominance of reductive models of literacy in formal education and public services, along with a devaluing of craft, has meant that the significance of knitting for meaning making in contemporary lives is not fully recognised. Neither is its potential as a way of understanding our material engagement with the world around us. This research will develop understanding of how knitting works as a meaning making practice through a series of collaborative workshops focused on the material process of making with yarn. It will contribute to the development of innovative theoretical tools for thinking about and researching knitting as an everyday literacy practice, offering a timely perspective on the role of the material in the meanings that matter and how they are made.

Crafting Literacy: amateur fibre craft and everyday meaning-making (Leverhulme Research Fellowship)

Amateur fibre crafts, such as knitting and crochet, have long established, yet often tacit, meanings in everyday life. As these crafts surge in popularity, these meanings are changing. This research aims to develop a conceptual underpinning for understanding amateur fibre craft as a communicative practice through which individuals across diverse communities experience everyday life. It does this by developing a conceptualisation of craft as an everyday literacy practice, making the case that this will support a broader understanding of literacy, craft and creativity in policy and practice. Publications so far include an article on knitting as everyday meaning making.

Shared reading group, Lenton (with Dr Kevin Harvey, School of English).

This work explores the collaborative practice of shared reading and the role it can play in supporting inclusive, asset-based models of participatory arts practice within communities.

Recent Publications

  • JONES, S., 2024. Making Time: knitting as temporal-material entanglement Journal of Material Culture. 29(1), 82-101
  • JONES, S., 2022. Knitting and everyday meaning-making TEXTILE: Cloth and Culture.
  • JONES, S., AND HARVEY, K., 2020. Participation, Perplexity and Plurality: exploring the shared reading of a ‘difficult’ poem Changing English. 27(1), 34-49.
  • JONES, S, 2018. Portraits of Everyday Literacy for Social Justice: Reframing the debate for families and communities Palgrave.

Past Research

Previous research projects include:

  • 'New literacies and cross-generational learning: an ethnography of everyday family practices on a Midlands council estate' (funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant). This explored the use of everyday literacies in the lives of three families. This research was the focus of an article which won the Wiley-Blackwell Research in Literacy Education Award 2015 and a monograph: Portraits of Everday Literacy for Social Justice: Reframing the Debate for Families and Communities (Palgrave)
  • Right Up My Street: an investigation into the creative practices and pedagogies of the Right Up My Street (RUMS) project which was run by Broadway Media Centre and funded through Creative England. Its aim was to connect young people with their communities whilst giving them professional skills through creative work (with Dr Joanna McIntyre).
  • 'Building a City of Literature' project (with Dr Joanna McIntyre). This involved working with creative practitioners and teachers to develop community arts projects in three Nottingham secondary schools. This built upon work that has arisen from our primary research in the Centre for Research in the Arts, Creativity, Literacies and Learning (CRACL), aiming to maximise the impact of existing resources, promote community engagement and develop local knowledge amongst pupils and teachers. The school-based community arts projects involved researching, reading, performing and writing plays about local communities.
  • Ethnographic research as part of a partnership between the University of Nottingham and community theatre company Hanby and Barrett.
  • I worked alongside Professors Pat Thomson, Christine Hall and Ken Jones as a research associate on the Arts Council sponsored Creative School Change Project, which explored the impact of Creative Partnerships on whole school change.
  • My doctoral research focused on the ways in which young bilinguals made use of literacy practices to explore their cultural worlds and identities.

School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

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