Now so many readers are consuming and commenting on literature digitally, we must explore the effects of digitisation on reading practices, reader responses and on the opportunities and methods available to researchers. Changes like digitisation are shaping our whole cultural heritage including the responses of future scholars to literature so we need to understand their impact. Students frequently respond more enthusiastically and critically in a digital environment than in an academic one and this pilot study will explore this and reflect on possible ways of harnessing this enthusiasm in teaching.
Digital technologies have made it much easier for readers to participate in a wide range of activities around their reading, including connecting with other readers, commenting on a range of texts, and even writing stories themselves. Online communities and fan forums present researchers with a wealth of data not only on what readers are reading, but how they are reading and engaging with texts. This data is potentially invaluable, especially in a context where reading is supposedly in decline, and where new devices such as ereaders are threatening to supplant the printed book.
This project will investigate the implications of these changes, and how they may potentially benefit a wide range of stakeholders, including those working in education and in the creative industries, as well as academics interested in readers and audiences. After collecting and analysing data on online reading practices we will be inviting international researchers in this area to reflect on and discuss the results.
If you are already conducting research in this area and would like to register as a potential participant in this study for focus groups, interviews and so forth (to be conducted online or travel funding provided where applicable) please register your interest on the Get Involved page.
Funded by the AHRC Digital Transformations in Arts and Humanities programme, February – August 2012.