Amir Kalan

Academic title(s): 

Assistant Professor

Amir Kalan
Contact Information

McGill University, 3700 rue McTavish, Education Building Rm 314, Montreal, QC, H3A 1Y2

T: (514) 398-2720


Email address: 
amir.kalan [at]

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) at McGill University. My work aims to create a sociology of literacy that provides insights into cultural, political, and power-relational dimensions of linguistic and textual practices. I mobilize discourse analysis, ethnography, practitioner research, narrative inquiry, and arts-based inquiry to study the sociological dimensions of reading, writing, and language education. I am particularly interested in learning about the experiences of minoritized and racialized students in multicultural and multilingual contexts. I study organic writing practices that occur beyond the current narrow institutional categorizations of writing styles, genres, and rhetorical norms. I seek to learn from literacy practices that are unofficial, underground, community-based, plurilingual, and multi-semiotic. I also welcome opportunities to study non-Western forms of language and literacy education. My research is often interdisciplinary. In my scholarship, I draw on philosophy, sociology, history, and literary theory. Where applicable, I make use of creative academic genres such as poetic scholarship.


2018- Ph.D. in Language and Literacies Education, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

2013- Master of Teaching, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto


Areas of expertise: 
  • Sociology of Literacy
  • Critical Writing Studies
  • Critical Genre Theory
  • Writing Across Borders
  • Multimodal Composition
  • Minoritized Students' Experiences with Literacy
  • Literacy Engagement in Times of Crisis
  • Nation-statism and Language Education
Tenure-Track Professors

Narrative Sovereignty: SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant (2023-2024)

This project is based on a partnership between my research team and Wapikoni Mobile, an Indigenous non-profit organization based in Montréal. Wapikoni supports the artistic expression of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth through mobile film and sound studios. This partnership’s goal is to better understand and define the concept of Narrative Sovereignty. Within Wapikoni’s activities, Narrative Sovereignty has been described as the act of re-creating one’s story on one’s own terms and by doing so having control over one’s artistic representations. The partnership aims to create a dialogue about Narrative Sovereignty in order to shape a scholarship that centers the epistemologies of Indigenous artists, activists, and community-workers. This project facilitates exploration of concepts such as narrative identity, Indigenous aesthetics, and cultural ownership.

Discursive Intervention as Decolonial Literacy Research: SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2022-2024)

In this project, my research team and I attempt to de-westernize trending research concepts such as multiliteracies and translanguaging. De-westernization addresses the imbalance in academic knowledge production by moving beyond conceptualizations in the West. It suggests an epistemic shift away from Eurocentric theorization by integrating the intellectual traditions of the Global South. We use Reconstructive Discourse Analysis as a methodology that can enable us to revisit and reconstruct Western concepts popular in literacy research through the lens of non-Western discourses about the same theories, notions, and pedagogies.

Writing in Times of Crisis: McGill University Start-up Fund (2020-present)

Writing in Times of Crisis explores writers’ experiences in the face of calamity, instability, uncertainty, and lack of literacy resources. The project contains multiple studies of writers and learners who engage with writing and publishing in times of trauma and tragedy. These studies include: Teaching and learning writing during pandemics; refugees’ engagement with writing in additional languages; minoritized populations’ publishing practices; and exiled writers’ multilingual textual performances. I study these writing practices as cases that highlight the nature of writing as a form of resistance and a means of survival. In this project, I showcase examples of writing in periods of crisis to illustrate that despite the orthodox Western view of writing as rhetorical craftsmanship, most organic forms of writing are personal, diverse in form, ideological, multimodal, and genre-fluid.

The Writingworld Project: SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2016-present) 

In this project, I study how minoritized populations’ literacy practices are scrutinized by gatekeepers such as institutions, associations, professions, assessors, teachers, and publishers. When immigrants and refugees adopt their hosts’ languages to write in, they need to navigate the cultural norms that regulate the relations of the humans who are involved in construction, dissemination, evaluation, and consumption of written texts. In this project, I study the “doxa” that regulate dominant literacy norms. I, also, document the “organic literacies” that help minorities develop academically, grow intellectually, and amplify their voices. I study how organic literacies challenge “the Writingworld”, or dominant writing cultures.

Selected publications: 

A. Peer-reviewed articles

Kalan, A. (in press). Can separatist ethnonationalist states create inclusive multilingual education policies? Evidence from the Iranian Plateau. Fórum Linguístico

Kalan, A. (2022). Negotiating writing identities across languages: Translanguaging as enrichment of semiotic trajectories. TESL Canada Journal, 38(2), 63-87.

Kalan, A., Jafari, P., & Aghajani, M. (2019). A collaborative practitioner inquiry into societal and power-relational contexts of an activist writing community’s textual events. International Journal of Action Research, 15(1), 62-80.

Simon, R., Evis, S., Walkland, T., Kalan, A., & Baer, P. (2016). Navigating the “delicate relationship between empathy and critical distance”: Youth literacies, social justice, and arts-based inquiry. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 15(3), 430-449.

Kalan, A. (2016). Teaching Anglo-American academic writing and intercultural rhetoric: A grounded theory study of practice in Ontario secondary schools. Current Studies in Comparative Education, Science and Technology (ISCEST) Journal, 3(1), 57-75.

Kalan, A. (2014). A practice-oriented definition of post-process second language writing theory. TESL Canada Journal, 32(1), 1-18.

Simon, R., Kalan, A., et al (2014). “In the swell of wandering words”: The arts as a vehicle for youth and educators’ inquiries into the Holocaust memoir  Night. Perspectives on Urban Education, 11(2), 90-106.

Kalan, A. (2014). Integrating speaking and listening activities into teaching Anglo-American academic writing rhetoric.  International Journal of English Language Teaching, 1(1), 101-107.

Kalan, A. (2013). The impact of Canadian social discourses on L2 writing pedagogy in Ontario.  English Language Teaching,  6(10), 32-42.

B. Sole-authored books

Kalan, A. (2021). Sociocultural and power-relational dimensions of multilingual writing: Recommendations for deindustrializing writing education. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Kalan, A. (2016). Who’s afraid of multilingual education? Conversations with Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Jim Cummins, Ajit Mohanty, and Stephen Bahry about the Iranian context and beyond. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

C. Edited books

Gagne, A., Kalan, A., & Herath, S. (Eds.) (2022). Critical action research challenging neoliberal language and literacies education: Auto and duoethnographies of global experiences. New York: Peter Lang.

D. Chapters

Kalan, A. (2023). Genre as a product of discursive fusion: A theoretical framework for interdisciplinary academic rhetoric. In L. Buckingham, J. Dong, & F. Jiang (Eds.), Interdisciplinary practices in academia: Writing, teaching and assessment (pp. 9-27). Routledge.

Gagne, A., Herath, S., & Kalan, A. (2022). Pathways to challenge the neoliberal constriction of education: An introductory multi-ethnography. In A. Gagne, A. Kalan, & S. Herath (Eds.),  Critical action research challenging neoliberal language and literacies education: Auto and duoethnographies of global experiences (pp. 5-43). New York: Peter Lang.

Troberg, M., & Kalan, A. (2022). Large online undergraduate courses: The demise of critical pedagogy? In A. Gagne, A. Kalan, & S. Herath (Eds.),  Critical action research challenging neoliberal language and literacies education: Auto and duoethnographies of global experiences (pp. 119-137). New York: Peter Lang.

Kalan, A. (2021). COVID-19, an opportunity to deindustrialize writing education. In I. Fayed, & J. Cummings (Eds.), Teaching in the post COVID-19 era: World education dilemmas, teaching innovations and solutions in the age of crisis (pp. 511-519). Springer.

Kalan, A. (2021). Writing in times of crisis: A theoretical model for understanding genre formation. In E. B. Hancı-Azizoğlu, & M. Alawdat (Eds.), Rhetoric and sociolinguistics in times of global crisis (pp. 214-234). IGI Global.

Simon, R., & Kalan, A. (2016). Adolescent literacy and collaborative inquiry. In K. A. Hinchman, & D. A. Appleman (Eds.),  Adolescent literacy: A handbook of practice-based research (pp. 398-420). New York: Guilford Press.

E. Conference proceedings

Kalan, A., & Troberg, M. (2016). Mobilizing practitioner action research to foster critical pedagogy in a large online undergrad university course. ARNA (Action Research Network of the Americas) Conference Proceedings. (Pages 1-21).

Kalan, A. (2015). Reading poetry in standardized EFL test preparation to increase meaningful literacy engagement. International Journal of Arts and Sciences, 7(6), 275-290.

F. Creative scholarship

Kalan, A. (in progress). Stance as inquiry: Practitioner inquiry in education.

Kalan, A. (2021). A rhetoric of protest [Poetry]. The College English Association Mid-Atlantic Review, 29, 78-79.

Kalan, A. (Producer). (2022). A rhetoric of protest [Video installation]. Montreal, Canada.

Simon, R. (Producer), & Kalan, A. (Director). (2015). After “Night” [Motion picture]. Toronto, Canada. University of Toronto.

G. Publications co-authored with students and communities

Kalan, A. (Ed.). (in progress). Critical food pedagogy: An ESL writing textbook.

Kalan, A. (Ed.). (2018). Undergraduate voices. Dayton, OH: University of Dayton E-Scholarship.

Kalan, A. (Ed.). (2014). Persian hip hop: Writing as social action [Persian]. Tarmatn Publications.


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