Dr Chris Bailey, from Sheffield Hallam University and the Department for Education, captivated a packed lecture theatre of staff and students at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU), as he described the process of both hand drawing and writing his PhD submission.

In his lecture, the first in a new Literature & Literacies Interest Group (LLIG) series, Dr Bailey discussed how the study was based on a primary school computer club, where the small group of ten and eleven year old children were engaged in the building of an online community, using Minecraft software. They called their online metropolis, Banterbury, deliberately emphasising that this was a place of play and fun, as well as a serious attempt to create a congruent and engaging, imaginary world.

However, rather than just studying what the pupils did, or how they interacted in their task, Dr Bailey decided to do a multi-faceted observation of what was happening, exploring the whole panorama of sights and sounds, on and off-screen activity, real-time relationships, power dynamics, links with the wider school life, and so on, leaving no element of the activity off limits: what Dr Bailey describes as rhizomic ethnography.

Individual snippets of the club activity were shown to us through video and visual posters, including a ritualised horse funeral, the development of a holding pen for a green sheep, and spontaneous songs developed by pupils in response to different scenarios. The pupils’ imagination was endless.

Mark Plater, Senior Lecturer Education & Theology at BGU, was full of praise for Dr Bailey’s unique lecture:

“This, the first of BGU’s LLIG lectures, proved to be an inspirational occasion, and a memorable hour: Chris showed that it is possible to be both serious and scholarly at the same time as being completely ‘off the wall’ in our approach to life and what is happening around us. I’m sure that we all have something to learn from his creativity and imagination”

You can keep up to date with all of the exciting events and lectures taking place at BGU, nearly all of which are open to the public, on our website. Whatever your interest there will be something for you.

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