Research Profile: Jennifer Rowsell

Faculty of Education

Research Profile: Jennifer Rowsell

Whether it is a teenager texting on her cell phone or a young child playing an app on his Mom’s iPhone, the nature of literacy and literate behaviour has changed dramatically in the past decade. 

Jennifer Rowsell, PhD
Canada Research Chair in Multiliteracies
Associate Professor, Brock University Faculty of Education 

It is time to set new terms and to redefine what literacy is in the twenty-first century. Canada Research Chair Jennifer Rowsell conducts research with small children, families and adolescents and teenagers to document and analyze their literacy habits and behaviours to offer a more contemporary perspective on literacy education.

Dr. Rowsell looks at various perspectives on expanding literacy beyond the written word. Doing Multimodality: Voices from the Field, is a research project that entails interviews with twenty producers of particular modes of meaning, expression and representation such as animation, sound, moving images, etc. using their stories, their logic, and their epistemologies to inform theory and curriculum work on modern-day reading and compositional practices (Rowsell, 2012). Design Literacies is an Elva Knight Research Grant awarded by the International Reading Association which is a study that applies a multimodal and multiliteracies approach to grade eleven English teaching and learning. Using FLIP cameras, producing podcasts, creating digital stories, Design Literacies applies a design-based approach to the learning of English literature and media studies (Rowsell & Decoste, 2011).

Dr. Rowsell has worked in the areas of New Literacy Studies, multimodality, and multiliteracies for a decade and has become known in her area of scholarship. She has written and co-written ten books on such wide-ranging topics as family literacy, New Literacy Studies, multimodality and early childhood and adolescent literacy, and identity and 21st century literacy. Dr. Rowsell has published twenty journal articles in refereed journals. She is on five editorial boards for journals in literacy education and is the book editor for The Journal of Early Childhood Education. Dr. Rowsell has given keynotes and invited addresses in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and South Africa. Rowsell is known by the international community as a scholar who conducts ethnographic studies looking in particular at how children, adolescents, and teenagers adopt a multimodal perspective to their understanding of literacy education.

Dr. Rowsell has impact in multiliteracies and is known for not only offering a language of description and frameworks for design and multimodal approaches to literacy pedagogy and practice, but also for forging new ground in terms of theory and what multimodal thinking and logic actually is and what dispositions it calls on to make meaning with new forms of communication. Often quoted for her work with Kate Pahl and a theory of sedimented identity in texts, Dr. Rowsell will lead the group of scholars and researchers within the Centre for Research in Multiliteracies at Brock University’s Faculty of Education.

Visit the Centre for Research in Multiliteracies HERE.
View Professor Rowsell's Faculty of Education profile HERE.


Jennifer Rowsell

Dr. Jennifer Rowsell
Associate Professor
Canada Research Chair in Multiliteracies


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