Dr Navan Govender




Personal statement

Navan N. Govender (SFHEA) is a Lecturer in Applied Language and Literacy Studies at the School of Education, University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, United Kingdom).

I am fundamentally interested in the role of texts in mediating relationships of power in English language, literacy, and literary education. This includes how texts are produced, used, circulated, and redesigned in and beyond contexts of teaching and learning. This involves working within the multidisciplinary field of critical literacies which understands that language (and sign systems more broadly), literacy (and meaning-making more broadly), power, identity, and social justice are intrinsic to the wholistic cognitive, social, and ethical development of young people and adults. It also understands that language and literacy education is bound to ideology (value-systems), and is therefore also a site for social and political action toward socially just futures.

My scholar-activist work in qualitative research and pedagogy therefore draws explicitly on the fields of critical applied linguistics, literacy studies, critical (multimodal) discourse analysis, queer/trans/feminist praxis, decolonial and anti-racist praxis, affect theory, and cultural sustainability as they pertain to teaching and learning in English education. At the interface of critical, queer, and decolonial theory and practice, I seek to explore conditions for (re)imagining more socially just practice in curriculum design, pedagogy, and assessment with (student) teachers and teacher educators. While I focus on (a)gender and (a)sexual diversity, anti-racism, and decoloniality in language and literacy education, I explore these as inherently entangled with a broad range of other social categories.

Currently, I work on two main projects that are located in and beyond Scotland:

  1. Queer Critical Literacies
  2. Critical Literacies & the Decolonial Turn: A Longitudinal Study in Higher/Teacher Education

Specific fields of study include: (queer) critical literacies; multimodality; critical applied linguistics; (a)gender & (a)sexual diversity; critical (multimodal) discourse analysis; social semiotics; and social justice education. 

Further interests include: culturally responsive/sustainable pedagogies, decoloniality, place-based pedagogies, anti-racism, creative methods, and intersectionality.

At Strathclyde, I teach on the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) programme, offering classes in critical literacies and multimodalities as well as a range of English methodology classes for secondary schooling educators. At Masters level, I also offer classes on research and teaching using critical (multimodal) discourse analysis, textual analysis, queer and decolonial methodologies, and (auto)ethnography. Within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, I sit on the Gender Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (GEDI) Committee. I also work closely with Strathclyde’s Student Union to support the development of queer and trans-inclusive and decolonial and anti-racist spaces and practices.  

Beyond Strathclyde, I am an active member of the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) as a co-convener of the Critical Literacy Special Interest Group (SIG)UKLA Regional Representative for West Scotland, and co-convener of the UKLA’s Publicity & Communications Committee. I am also a member of The Anti-Racist Educator, a collective of educational stakeholders engaging in critical and anti-racist education, as well as being a member of the Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce working group at national level. 

Recently, my colleagues (from a range of universities across the United States, New Zealand, and the UK) and I were appointed as co-editors of The Reading Teacher Journal (a Wiley publication for the International Literacy Association). 

I hold a Bachelor of Education degree (specialising in English Education in secondary and further education & training contexts), a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Applied English Language Studies, and a PhD in Applied Language & Literacy Education. My PhD investigated how critical literacy could be used to engage student teachers with issues related to (a)gender & (a)sexual  diversity in South Africa.

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Professional Activities

Dis/Re/Orientating Critical Literacies: Following the lines of imagination & affect
Sheffield literacy and language conference 2024
“How to tame a wild tongue” - language and power
UKLA National Conference 2024
HFL Education Primary English Conference 2024
United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) (External organisation)

More professional activities


Negotiating the Gendered Representation of Sexualties through Critical Literacy
Govender, Navan N (Principal Investigator)
The conflations of sex and gender, and then gender and sexual identity in representation becomes problematic in a context where homophobic discourses and violence still persist, despite South Africa’s progressive constitution. Therefore, this study focuses on the implications of the conflations between sex, gender and sexuality for education.
Using literature on theories of power, sex, gender and sexuality, as well as critical literacy, I have designed a critically aware educational workbook that confronts issues of sex, gender and sexuality. Because no text is neutral, this workbook and the process of its production are critically reflected upon and scrutinised in order to understand how critically aware educational materials can be produced. The workbook is then implemented in a critical literacy course for pre-service student teachers at a university in Johannesburg. In these lectures, the workbook is used to deconstruct patriarchal and heteronormative order in the attempt to understand how effective the workbook is, and the responses that participating students give in relation to texts and activities in class. These responses are recorded through field notes and notebooks, wherein students complete in-class activities, and have revealed the complexities involved in reimagining sex, gender and sexuality as socially loaded concepts and its impact on language use in the classroom. Finally, because critical literacy advocates (re)design practice, students are given a task to design their own educational materials. These are then critically analysed in order to consider how students’ design trends and ‘evaluations’ of the course show their changing understandings of sex, gender, sexuality and the conflations between them, or how they remain the same.
Throughout this thesis, I argue the need for critical literacy in education, across learning areas and grades. Specifically, I argue for a critical literacy that is unafraid to deal with controversial issues and difficult conversations, as well as a practice that uses subversive texts and diversity as resources for teaching and learning.
01-Jan-2013 - 30-Jan-2014

More projects

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Dr Navan Govender

Email: navan.govender@strath.ac.uk
Tel: Unlisted