Undoing the Digital: Sociomaterialism and Literacy Education, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Undoing the Digital

Sociomaterialism and Literacy Education, 1st Edition

By Cathy Burnett, Guy Merchant


152 pages

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Paperback: 9781138326545
pub: 2020-04-10
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Undoing the Digital challenges common ways of understanding digital technology and its relationships to literacy and literacy education. The book explores how a socio-material perspective can provide an alternative analysis of literacy in the context of digital communication. 

Introducing a series of conceptual tools and examples,the book examines digital communication as an emergent interweaving of social, material and semiotic resources. The perspective invites literacy research to focus more on the relations associated with the process of making meaning: the new collaborations, stories, conceptualisations, directions, and intentions that take shape in, and also help to shape the contemporary mediascape. 

Drawing on studies conducted in a variety of contexts, this book is key reading for all advanced students and researchers of literacy and digital media within Education, Applied Linguistics and Media/Communication Studies.


"In Undoing the Digital, Burnett and Merchant make a clear and compelling case for taking up sociomaterial perspectives and relational ontologies in literacy research and practice. Starting from the belief that "literacy is always emergent," Burnett and Merchant develop powerful conceptual tools and frameworks that shift sociocultural literacy theory and research in significant ways. This is an immensely readable and important book."

Michelle A. Honeyford, University of Manitoba, Canada

"In this welcome and clear-sighted exploration of this tangled area, Burnett and Merchant bring their characteristic close observation and deep knowledge of children, classrooms, literacy and the digital to analyse the interweaving of technology and meaning making from a socio-material perspective. An outstanding contribution from two of the leading figures in the field."

Catherine Beavis, Deakin University, Australia

Table of Contents

List of tables



  1. Undoing the Digital
  2. The Instability of Things
  3. Making new sense of literacy
  4. In the Event
  5. Approaching Method from a Sociomaterial Perspective
  6. An ethic of caring
  7. Enchantment
  8. Rethinking literacy and education


About the Authors

Cathy Burnett is Professor of Literacy and Education at Sheffield Hallam University where she leads the Language and Literacy in Education Research Group. Her research focuses on relationships between literacy and technology in and beyond educational settings. She is President of the United Kingdom Literacy Associations.

Guy Merchant is Professor of Literacy and Education in the Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University. He specialises in research on children and young people’s uses of digital communication. He is a founding editor of the Journal Early Childhood Literacy and co-author with Cathy Burnett of New Media in the Classroom (2018).

About the Series


This series showcases innovative research and scholarship in the field of Literacy Studies.

Literacy practices are changing rapidly in contemporary society in response to broad social, economic and technological changes: in education, the workplace, the media and in everyday life. The Literacies series reflects the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of research into reading and writing. The series aims to publish studies which consider literacy as a social practice. Work in this field has been developed and drawn together to provide books that are accessible, interdisciplinary and international in scope, covering a wide range of social and institutional contexts.  

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General