Nottingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre

Image of Helen Victoria Smith

Helen Victoria Smith

ESRC DTC PhD Student (Education), Faculty of Social Sciences


Research Summary

Current Status: PhD (full-time) - currently registered

Research Topic Title:

A literacy ethnography of a small town from mothers' perspectives

Research Summary:

My PhD research is an ethnographic study of pre-school literacy in a local town from mothers' perspectives. The focus on a small, specific set of people in a particular place, is intended to yield in-depth and nuanced data that will enhance current understandings of place-based literacy in the UK. It will explore the range of literacy resources available in the town (and what they imply about what literacy is) and also the mothers' and children's engagement with these resources.

Research Interests:

Children's Literacy, Place and Space, Ethnography

Research Supervisors:

Professor Christine Hall

Dr Susan Jones

Primary Funding Source/s:

ESRC Doctoral Training Centre

Research Institutes, Centres and/or Research Clusters Memberships:

Centre for Research in Arts, Creativities and Literacies

Conference Papers and Presentations

'Literacy in the library: What counts for young children?' UKLA 52nd International Conference 8-10 July 2016

'Ready for school? Exploring the differing understandings of mothers and professionals' EECERA 27th Conference, Italy 29 Aug - 1 Sept 2017


Cooking the books: what counts as literacy for young children in a public library? Literacy [available online: 14 JUL 2017 | DOI: 10.1111/lit.12121]

What do we mean by school-ready? University of Nottingham Primary Education Network [available online: 4 SEPT 2017]

Past Research

I collected qualitative data for a research project on the Dolly Parton Imagination Library scheme that operates in a particular part of Nottingham (2014).

I conducted a pilot study for my PhD research (which also fed in to my Masters dissertation) which explored children's literacy in a town library through the lens of spatial theory (2015).

Nottingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre

University Park

telephone: +44 (0) 115 748 4507