DECRA Success for the Lab’s Dr. Sarah E. Truman

We are pleased to announce that the Literary Education Lab’s Dr. Sarah E. Truman (Senior Research Fellow at University of Melbourne) has been awarded a prestigious DECRA (Discovery Early Career Research Award). The three-year project will investigate how youth create science fictions in order to think critically about issues related to sustainability, technology, and social equity. The project will take place in both mining regions and metropolitan communities in Australia, Canada, and Wales in collaboration with teachers and experts in the fields of science fiction and STEM. Dr. Truman will have a dedicated website for the project that will be linked with the Literary Education Lab. Here is the link to the ARC’s website on the successful DECRAS:

Article in Discourse called ‘Disrupting intertextual power networks: challenging literature in schools’

Literary Education Lab’s Truman, McLean Davies, and Buzacott have a new article out in Discourse.

Here’s the abstract: This paper thinks with the concept of intertextuality to consider themultiple intersecting power structures inside and outside of literaryeducation in secondary schools that continue to dominate textselection policies and teaching practices. We draw on our researchwith in-service teachers to reconsider how intertextual networkscirculate on multiple levels: textual, social, cultural, andinstitutional. Although the concept of intertextuality has beenactivated as an alternative to rarified conceptualisations of literaryheritage, as we unpack in this paper, intertextuality oftendistributes, reinforces, and perpetuates canonical power structuressuch as institutional whiteness, and Euro western values insecondary school subjects that feature literary studies. Rather thanabandoning intertextuality, we attempt to tease out how itoperates in various registers in schooling and we suggest howcritically engaging with the concept might provide a way forwardfor English study in the twenty-first century.

Reading Australian Cli-Fi in Secondary Schools Webinar

Reading Australian Cli-Fi in Secondary Schools

This webinar is the third in MSSI’s Environmental Arts & Humanities Network seminar series. In this series scholars, artists and storytellers reflect on ways environmental arts and humanities can provoke deep engagement with, nuanced understanding of, and robust community discussion about the multiple and overlapping environmental and cultural crises of our times. 

In this talk Literary Education Lab‘s Larissa McLean Davies and Sarah E Truman consider the ways in which thinking with issues of sustainability and climate crisis prompt new imaginings of reading and teacher education in an Australian settler-colonial context. We discuss how Indigenous climate fiction (cli-fi) texts such as Heat and LightTerra Nullius, and Carpentaria refuture relations and invite new modes of reading through our ongoing project the ‘Teacher-Researchers’ which is undertaken in collaboration with The Stella Prize. The project is designed to support secondary English teachers to develop new knowledges of diverse contemporary fiction. 


Dr Joëlle Gergis is an award-winning climate scientist and writer from The Australian National University. She is an internationally recognised expert in Australian and Southern Hemisphere climate variability and change based in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. Her research focuses on providing a long-term historical context for assessing recently observed climate variability and extremes. 

New Empiricisms in the Anthropocene: Thinking With Speculative Fiction About Science and Social Inquiry

The Literary Education Lab’s Sarah E. Truman and colleague Elizabeth de Freitas have a new article out in Qualitative Inquiry. Open Access link:

Here’s the abstract:

Interest in new empiricisms and transdisciplinary methods has led many social inquirers to engage with 20th-century post-classical physical science. Many of these projects have focused on alternative matter–mind mixtures and in/organic variation, concerned that past theories of sociality have dismissed the vibrancy and animacy of the nonhuman material world. This paper explores the power of speculative fiction to help us rethink empiricism in posthuman ecologies of the Anthropocene, in the midst of post-truth conditions and growing science denialism. We foreground speculative fiction as a way to open up scientific imaginaries, rethinking the relationship between nature, technics, and human “sense” making. We show how such texts offer alternative images of research methods for studying pluralist ecologies and new forms of worldly belonging.

Literary Education Lab’s Larissa McLean Davies @ Melbourne Writers’ Festival


Australian literature provides a means through which we might better understand ourselves, and our relationships with our region and the world. Larissa McLean Davies, Associate Professor in Language and Literacy at Melbourne Graduate School of Education, is joined by Professor Ken Gelder to explore the crucial role of literature and reading in this time of climate and social crisis, and the vital importance of teaching diverse Australian literature in schools. With an introduction from Alexis Wright, Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature.

White déjà vu: article by Literary Education Lab’s Sarah E. Truman

New article out by Sarah E. Truman in English in Australia:

Drawing on affect theory, critical race scholarship and discussions of whiteness, she argues that despite continued local attempts at diversification of English literary education, whiteness continues to circulate through and cling to many of the core texts, narratives and messages that make up English literary education. This whiteness is general and specific, global and local, obvious and hidden. Rather than attempting to discuss the literary canon as a whole, she focuses on a specific literary text as an example of how whiteness circulates as neutral or normal in literary education, even in a text that’s often framed as helping (white) students learn about racism:

New Article on Science Fiction and Science Mistrust

Literary Education Lab’s Sarah E. Truman, and college Liz de Freitas have a new article out in Rhizomes: Science fiction and science dis/trust: Thinking with Bruno Latour’s Gaia and Liu Cixin’s The Three-body Problem. It’s Open Access:

Here’s the Abstract:

This article draws on the ideas of Bruno Latour to examine the nature of science dis/trust and denialism in times of crisis. We argue that Latour’s image of science creates new demands on public trust, shifting the focus from ‘trusting that a particular scientific claim is true’ towards an engagement with Gaia (earth) where scientists encounter and form alliances with agencies alive with trickster motive. We use the science fiction novel Three body problem to explore the specific challenges to scientific authority within this relational ontology, under various climatic regimes. We show how the SF novel offers insights into Latour’s proposal for science as a risky diplomacy in a metamorphic zone.

Article out by Literary Education Lab’s Truman and McLean Davies

Literary Education Lab’s Sarah E. Truman and Larissa McLean Davies have an article out in Reading Research Quarterly with colleagues in the United Kingdom entitled ‘The Capaciousness of No: Affective Refusals as Literacy Practices’. The article is open access:


The authors considered the capacious feeling that emerges from saying no to literacy practices, and the affective potential of saying no as a literacy practice. The authors highlight the affective possibilities of saying no to normative understandings of literacy, thinking with a series of vignettes in which children, young people, and teachers refused literacy practices in different ways. The authors use the term capacious to signal possibilities that are as yet unthought: a sense of broadening and opening out through enacting no. The authors examined how attention to affect ruptures humanist logics that inform normative approaches to literacy. Through attention to nonconscious, noncognitive, and transindividual bodily forces and capacities, affect deprivileges the human as the sole agent in an interaction, thus disrupting measurements of who counts as a literate subject and what counts as a literacy event. No is an affective moment. It can signal a pushback, an absence, or a silence. As a theoretical and methodological way of thinking/feeling with literacy, affect proposes problems rather than solutions, countering solution‐focused research in which the resistance is to be overcome, co‐opted, or solved. Affect operates as a crack or a chink, a tiny ripple, a barely perceivable gesture, that can persist and, in doing so, hold open the possibility for alternative futures.