Collections Research Projects

Colleagues across the University of Reading are currently engaged in a range of highly innovative externally funded research initiatives and international collaborations that draw substantially on our Special Collections and Museums.

stack of old booksMajor Research Projects

The Impact of Distribution and Reading Patterns on the History of the Novel in Britain, 1880-1940 (AHRC funded)

This project drew heavily on the nationally designated Archive of British Publishers and Printers in Special Collections. It examines the relationship between book history and literary history by investigating whether and to what extent the novel as a literary and cultural form has been affected by changing patterns of the distribution and readership of texts.

For more information about this research project, please visit:
The Impact of Distribution and Reading Patterns on the Novel in Britain, 1880-1940 >>>

Staging Beckett: the Impact of Productions of Samuel Beckett's Drama on Theatre Practice and Cultures in the United Kingdom and Ireland (2012-2015)

A collaborative project with the University of Chester and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The project will examine the role Samuel Beckett played in shaping modern theatre practice in the UK and Ireland and will enable a unique picture of British and Irish theatres to emerge through their approaches to staging Beckett.

For more information about this research project, please visit:
Staging Beckett the Impact of Productions of Samuel Beckett's Drama on Theatre Practice and Cultures in the United Kingdom and Ireland (2012-2015) >>>

Interactive sensory objects developed for and by people with learning disabilities

This AHRC funded project, 'Interactive sensory objects developed for and by people with learning disabilities,' is a collaboration led by the Department of Art with Systems Engineering at Reading, with the Tower Group and the Rix Centre, at the University of East London. The research aims to create a series of multisensory interactive art works that respond to equivalent objects in museum collections, developed through art-based workshops by people with learning disabilities in collaboration with an interdisciplinary research team. The project is based at MERL is one of three museums, along with Speke Hall, Liverpool, Museum and The British Museum, London.

For more information about this research project, please visit:
Interactive sensory objects developed for and by people with learning disabilities >>>

butterflies and fruitMajor Research Collaborations

Beckett Digital Manuscript Project

Research collaboration under the auspices of the Centre for Manuscript Genetics (University of Antwerp), the Beckett International Foundation (University of Reading), the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (Austin, Texas) and the Estate of Samuel Beckett.

For more information about this research collaboration, please visit:
Beckett Archive >>>

Leverhulme International Network: Diasporic Archives: Questions of Location, Ownership and Interpretation

Led by The University of Reading in collaboration with The Beinecke Rare Book Room and Manuscript Library at Yale University in the USA, Il Centro di Ricerca sulla Tradizione Manoscritta de Autori Moderni e Contemporanei in Italy, l'Institut Mémoires de l'Édition Contemporaine (IMEC) in France, The National Library and Archives Service of Namibia and a prominent archivist from Trinidad and Tobago.

For more information about this research collaboration, please visit:
Leverhulme International Network: Diasporic Archives: Questions of Location, Ownership and Interpretation >>>

The Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP): The Hogarth Press Archive Online

This international collaborative digital humanities project involves partners from Stanford University, Ontario College of Art and Design, University of Orego) and University of Alberta). The project aims to provide new ways of analysing and communicating the production networks of texts and draws on the Hogarth Press archive held at Reading.

For more information about this research collaboration, please visit:

the chauffeur's companionResearch in Collections Research

Object-based Learning for Higher Education (OBL4HE)

This project, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), aims to help students and researchers use museum collections at University College London and Reading University more effectively based on research into student experiences of learning with collections. It has digitised c.10,000 sources (objects and archive documents) that will be combined with existing digital records to create a source base of about 150,000 digital assets together with a selection of e-learning resources.

For more information, please visit:
Object-based Learning for Higher Education >>>

Countryside21: digital curation, participation, enterprise

This project aims to enhance accessibility to MERL's growing number of digital assets, through developing improved searching and discovery of content, It will integrate separate systems, review and improve keywords and classifications so users have the greatest possible chance of identifying what they are looking for.

For more information, please visit:
Countryside2: digital curation, participation, enterprise >>>

A Sense of Place

This project aims to turn the traditional museum catalogue into a more flexible and interactive resource, engaging and connecting audiences with our collections in terms of relevance to geographical, historical and cultural contexts. MERL, like almost every museum, faces the challenge of how to help visitors interpret their experience of historical artefacts removed from their original contexts. To achieve this we need to explore new forms of user-friendly Information and Communications Technology (ICT) that will help audiences access and make use of our collections data in new and more meaningful ways.

For more information, please visit:
A Sense of Place >>>

For more current and recent projects and collections research see:
Research and Projects the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) >>>

For more information about Ure Museum research:
Welcome to the Ure Museum >>>
Collections Gateway: recent research at the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology >>>

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