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College of Education

Faculty and Staff

Catherine Compton-Lilly, Ed.D.

Title: Professor, Elementary Education; Coordinator, Teaching and Learning Ph.D.
John C. Hungerpiller Professor
Department: Teacher Education
College of Education
Phone: 803-777-5755
Office: Wardlaw 103
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Catherine Compton-Lilly, Ed.D.


Ed.D. University of Rochester


Catherine Compton-Lilly is the John C. Hungerpiller Professor at the University of South Carolina. As a professor in the College of Education, Compton-Lilly teaches courses in literacy studies, elementary educations and works with local educators. Among the books she has edited or authored are: Whitewashed Critical Perspectives: Restoring the Edge to Edgy Ideas in Literacy Education (co-edited with Lewis Ellison, Perry, & Smagorinsky) and Making Sense of Literacy Scholarship: Approaches to Synthesizing Literacy Research (co-authored with Rogers & Lewis Ellison). She has a forthcoming book entitled Children in Immigrant Families Becoming Literate, which she co-authored with a team of doctoral students. She is also the author of a series of texts dedicated to a ten-year longitudinal research project: Reading Families: The Literate Lives of Urban Children (2003), Rereading Families (2007), Reading Time: The literate lives of urban secondary students and their families (2012), and Reading students’ lives: Literacy learning across time (2016). In these books, she describes her experiences in following eight of her former first grade students through high school. Compton-Lilly has authored articles in several major educational journals including the Reading Research Quarterly, Research in the Teaching of English, The Reading Teacher, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Written Communication, Urban Education, Journal of Literacy Research and Language Arts.

Catherine Compton-Lilly engages in longitudinal research projects that last over long periods of time. Her interests include examining how time operates as a contextual factor in children’s lives as they progress through school and construct their identities as students and readers. In an ongoing study, now in its thirteenth year, Compton-Lilly is working with a team of graduate students to follow children from immigrant families from primary school through high school. Compton-Lilly is recognized in two honorary books as part of the Garn Press Women Scholars Series: Diversity Research in Action and Time in Education: Intertwined Dimensions and Theoretical Possibilities. In 2020, Compton-Lilly served as an Honorary Chair Professor at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. Compton-Lilly holds emerita status at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Selected Publications

Compton-Lilly, C. (invited, in press). Into the Fray: Black English, Reading Politics, and the Legacy of Dr. Ken Goodman. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Compton-Lilly, C. & Hawkins, M. (2023). Global Flows and Critical Cosmopolitanism: A Longitudinal Case Study, Harvard Educational Review, 93, 26-52.

Compton-Lilly, C., Lewis Ellison, T., & Rogers, R. (invited, in press). Engaging with Family Literacy Scholarship: Bearing Witness to Scholars and Families of Color. The Reading Teacher.

Hsin, C.-T., Compton-Lilly, C., Hsieh, M.-F., & Luu, D. T. (2023). Creating books and sustaining Indigenous languages with two Atayal communities. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. Advance online publication. 

Compton-Lilly, C., Shedrow, S., Hagerman, D., Hamman, L., Chi, Y.K., Kim, J., Lee, S.Y., Papoi, K., Quast, E., Ward, B., Zheng, B. (in press). Children in Immigrant Families Becoming Literate. Routledge.

Compton-Lilly, C., Lewis Ellison, T., Perry, K., & Smagorinsky, M. (Eds.) (2022). Whitewashed Critical Perspectives: Restoring the Edge to Edgy Ideas in Literacy Education. Routledge.

Compton-Lilly, C., Rogers, R. & Lewis Ellison, T. (2021). Making Sense of Literacy Scholarship: Approaches to Synthesizing Literacy Research. Routledge.

 Compton‐Lilly, C., Mitra, A., Guay, M., & Spence, L. K. (2020). A confluence of complexity: Intersections among reading theory, neuroscience, and observations of young readers. Reading Research Quarterly55, 185-195.

 Compton-Lilly, C. (2020). Microaggressions and macroaggressions across time: The longitudinal construction of inequality in schools. Urban Education55(8-9), 1315-1349.

 Compton-Lilly, C., Rogers, R, & Ellison Lewis, T. (2020). A meta-ethnography of family literacy scholarship: Ways with metaphors: Reading Research Quarterly, 55(2), 271-289.

 Compton-Lilly, C., with Kim, J., Quast, E., Tran, S., & Shedrow, S. (invited column; 2019). What We Must learn from Children in Immigrant Families. The Reading Teacher, 73(2), 135-140.

Compton-Lilly, C., Kim, J., Quast, E., & Tran, S.  (2019).  Transnational literacy practices in immigrant families: A longitudinal study. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy.

Compton-Lilly, C., Papoi, K., Venegas, P., Hamman, L., & Schwabenbauer (2017). Intersectional Identity Negotiation:  The Case of Young Immigrant Children, Journal of Literacy Research, 49(1), 115-140.

Compton-Lilly, C. (2016). Reading students’ lives: Literacy learning across time. New York: Routledge.

Compton-Lilly, C. (2016). The possibilities of longitudinal research: Lessons from a teacher and a researcher. The Educational Forum, 80, 466-478.

Compton-Lilly, C. (2016). Time in Education: Intertwined dimensions and theoretical possibilities. Time and Society, 25(3), 575-593.

Compton-Lilly, C. (2015). Longitudinal studies and literacy studies.  In J. Rowsell & K. Pahl (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies (pp. 218-230). New York, Routledge.

Compton-Lilly, C. (2015). Reading lessons from Martin:  A case study of one African American student. Language Arts, 92(6), p. 401-411. 

Compton-Lilly, C. (2015). Revisiting children and families: Temporal discourse analysis and the longitudinal construction of meaning (pp. 61-78). J. Rowsell & J. Sefton-Greene (Ed.) Learning and literacy over time: Longitudinal perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Compton-Lilly, C. (2014). The development of writing habitus: A ten-year case study of a young writer. Written Communication, 31, 371-403.

Compton-Lilly, C. & Halverson, E. (Eds.) (2014). Time and space in literacy research. Routledge Publishers.

Compton-Lilly, C. (2014). Temporal discourse analysis.  In P. Albers, T. Holbrook, A. Flint (Eds.). New Methods in Literacy Research (pp. 40- 55). New York: Routledge.


Research/Areas of Expertise

Literacy in families
Literacy in historically underserved communities
Early childhood literacy
Learning to read and write

Special Awards and Honors

2022 College of Education Research Award, University of South Carolina

2022 Fulbright Scholar Award, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan Fulbright Foundation (Fall 2022).

2022 Honorary Chair Professor, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan.

2021 Honorary Book:  Diversity Research in Action. In B. Kabuto, (Ed.) Great Women Scholars Series. Garn Press.

2021 Honorary Book: Time in education: Intertwined dimensions and theoretical possibilities. In B. Kabuto, (Ed.) Great Women Scholars Series. Garn Press.

2020 Honorary Chair Professor, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan.

2020 Invited Participant,  Inaugural Convening, Southeastern PDS Research Consortium, University of South Carolina and the Spencer Foundation, (May 2021)

2018 Wisconsin State Reading Association, Contribution to Literacy Award, Milwaukee, WI.

2017 Wisconsin State Reading Association Outstanding Service Award, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

2014 Jeanne S. Chall Visiting Researcher Award, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

2014 Wisconsin State Reading Association Celebrate Literacy Award, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

2009 Dina Feitelson Research Award for Empirical Research Article in Reading, International Reading Association, Minneapolis, MN.

2002 Spencer NEA Postdoctoral Fellowship, Examining Literacy in GED Families:  When children and parents attend school.


  • EDRD 430: Elementary Literacy Instruction I
  • EDRD 431: Foundations of Literacy Assessment
  • EDRD 803: Pedagogical Perspectives on Reader Response Theory
  • EDRD 824: Discourse Analysis
  • EDRD 824: Identity, Literacy and Learning
  • EDRD 824: Global and Local Literacies

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