English Teaching: Practice and Critique

Volume 13, Number 3 (December 2014): Focus: English as identity formation

Co-editors: Mary Ryan (Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology) and Teresa Cremin (Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology, The Open University, UK) and Ana Ferreira (Wits School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand)


Literate practices and identities matter, those of both students and their teachers. There is considerable research exploring the discursive construction of students’ literacy practices and identities and the discursively mediated identities of literacy and English teachers. As Moje and Luke (2009) note, how identity is viewed influences and is influenced by the way literacy is viewed. Teachers’ literate identities and conceptualisations of literacy shape what counts as literacy in their classrooms, but also frame, shape and often limit students’ identities, both as readers and as writers (Hall, 2012).

Identity formation or subjectivity is always embedded in broader, dynamic and complex sociocultural contexts, constructed through difference and implicated in relations of power which often manifest themselves through issues of race, class, gender and sexuality (Norton & Toohey, 2011). Textual and embodied performances are significant in the ways we communicate meanings about our identities, including the construction of online identities and how these reflect, magnify or contradict offline lives (Ito et al, 2010) and classroom identities.

Subject English, with its porous and shifting boundaries, multifaceted disciplinary focus and different modes and pedagogic practices, is a key site for identity formation of teachers and students. Further, English language teaching in increasingly multilingual and culturally diverse contexts has implications for identity work. How these different enactments of English play themselves out in the discursively structured classroom space, and how they shape, and are shaped by, students' and teachers' subjectivities are of particular interest in this special issue.

This special issue of English Teaching Practice and Critique highlights recent research which foregrounds the issue of students’ and teachers’ identity formation in the context of the English and/or literacy classroom in a range of educational settings.


Hall, L. A. (2012). Rewriting identities: Creating spaces for students and teachers to challenge the norms of what it means to be a reader in school. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55, 368-373.

Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., boyd, D., Cody, R., Herr-Stephenson, B., et al. (Eds.). (2010). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with New Media. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Gennrich, T. and Janks, H. (2013). Teachers’ literate identities. In  K. Hall, T. Cremin,  B. Comber, & L.  Moll (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell international research handbook of children's literacy, learning and culture (pp. 172-183) Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Moje, E.B. & Luke, A. (2009). Literacy and identity: Examining the metaphors in history and contemporary research. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(4), 415-437.

Norton, B. & Toohey, K. (2011). Identity, language learning and social change. Language Teaching, 44(4), 412-446.

The Editorial Board expresses its gratitude to the the guest editors of this issue and also to the following (some are members of the Review Board) who have helped with the review process: Hilary Janks (University of Witswatersrand), Russell Cross (University of Melbourne), Mary Macken-Horarik, (University of New England), Toni Gennrich (University of Witswatersrand), Kevin Roozen (University of Central Florida), Jill McClay (University of Alberta), Jenny Hammond (University of Technology, Sydney), Elsie Cloete (University of Witswatersrand), Jackie Marsh (University of Sheffield), Anita Jetnikoff (Queensland University of Technology, Cheryl Brown (University of Cape Town), Karen Tour (Monash University), Mary Ryan (Queensland University of Technology), Karen Lazar (University of Witswatersrand), Ufuoma Akpojivi (University of Witswatersrand), Radha Iyer (Queensland University of Technology), Sue Thomas (Griffith University), Cathy Burnett (Sheffield Hallam University), Margaret Mackey (University of Alberta), Pinky Makoe (University of South Africa), Carolyn McKinney (University of Cape Town), Indika Liyanage (Griffith Univeristy), Karen Dooley (Queensland University of Technology), Jennifer Rennie (Monash University), Janet Maybin (Open University, UK), Belinda Mendelowitz, (University of Witswatersrand), Karen Woodman (Queensland University of Technology), Sue Ellis (University of Glasgow), Claire Dowdall (Plymouth University), David Robinson (University of Johannesburg), Chris Hall (University of Nottingham), Sally Baker (Open University, UK), Karen Murris (University of Cape Town), Kerryn Dixon (University of Witwatersrand), Terry Locke (University of Waikato).

View contents of issue