Our researchers will ask questions about generating a diverse and socially inclusive canon fit for the twenty-first century, whilst stimulating literacy and readings cultures across the UK and beyond. Most importantly, we want to know what novels shaped the lives of the British public. We will be using the nQuire platform (https://nquire.org.uk) to launch a series of surveys. nQuire was used to solicit data for the BBC’s massively successful Gardenwatch programme.  Project partners include Libraries Connected and The British Library.

The research has various strands.  Firstly, the team will help the BBC gather data on the way in which general public engages with the monthly group of ten novels that are released in categories including ‘Identity’, ‘Love Sex and Romance’ and ‘Rule Breakers’. We would like to know which novels the public has read, and what they think about these works of fiction. Towards the end of the project, a longer survey will be released to understand how the general audience responded to the entire, year-long project.

Secondly, the “2020 Reader Review” research is a continuation of Professor Karina van Dalen-Oskam’s research into the ways in which readers were asked to assign ‘literary quality’ to contemporary novels.  This project is called ‘The Riddle of Literary Quality’ and is designed to understand how unconscious biases – the stereotypes that certain groups may have about individuals or other groups of people that we are not aware of – are part of our reading pattern, publishing industry, school curricula etc. 

Thirdly, our “Novel Memories” research wants to understand how people have remembered stories and characters they read in the past. We want to understand how people’s mood at a specific point in time when reading fiction has shaped their emotional understanding of the story, but we also want to know how people associate certain emotions with characters and books. We’re also interested in understanding what particular novels had a major impact on your life, and why? We will then ask you to reread these novels to see how your opinion of these novels has changed. For more information, contact Prof. Groes.