Language, text & power on Researchers' Night 

Language, text & power on Researchers' Night

A researchers' voyage – Dr Matthew Nicholls

Dr Matthew Nicholls is working on a unique large-scale digital model of the ancient city of Rome. Designed to give insight into the appearance of the city aroDigital model of Rome 2und AD315, the model has proved useful in lectures, on field trips in Rome, and for illustrating public talks in schools, museums, and even cruise ships. Each building is painstakingly reconstructed from the available archaeological and literary evidence and integrated into a city-wide model which now contains several thousand structures. Dr Nicholls looks forward to working with publishers for the educational and tourist markets when the model is complete.    

Interview with Dr Matthew Nicholls

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Archival documents pointing the way for digital resources – Gerry Leonidas

Greek document 1

Gerry Leonidas, programme director of the MA Typeface Design programme, spoke of how research in historical documents informs design decisions in contemporary environments. Using Greek as a case study, Gerry used original archival material to give examples of current design practice in areas as diverse as printed dictionaries, branded corporate material, and mobile device interfaces.

The strand of research that Gerry spoke about dates to the first period of document internationalisation in the mid 1990s, and its continued growth. When software publishers like Microsoft and Adobe first rose to the challenge of deploying Europe-wide versions of their products, developers faced the problem of describing typographic practice and explaining conventions in ways that could be implemented in new media. Furthermore, Gerry's work has attempted to illuminate past practice in a way that hints at the scope for innovation for new designers and developers. The results of this work can be seen in a wide range of resources: from the core fonts in Microsoft and Adobe applications, toGreek document 2
commercial work for international brands,
and to work directed at scholars.

The approach exemplified in this session is used throughout the Department of Typography's research-led practice on typeface design. A range of related projects, that started as supervised work in the Department, can be seen in commercial use today.  

Edited verison of Gerry Leonidas' Researchers' Night talk

Download the Edited verison of Gerry Leonidas' Researchers' Night talk audio file (right-click to save)

Greek gods – Dr Amy Smith

The Ure Museum hosted an event for primary school students based around Greek myths and in particular the stories featuring Greek Gods. The Museum also extended its opening hours so members of the public could view the collection of materials from the Greek and Greco-Roman civilisations of the Mediterranean, most notably Greek and Etruscan ceramics and terracottas.

A number of research projects at the University are centred on the themes of Greek myths and in particular Aphrodite, more information can be found here:

Dr Amy Smith is also involved with the 'Europeana' project. Europeana enables people to explore the digital resources of Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections. It is also possible to view museum collections through 'The Virtual Lightbox for Museums and Archives' (VLMA) and the Ure Museum Database. Further information is available here:

Buster Keaton in Samuel Beckett's Film – Professor Jonathan Bignell

Professor Jonathan Bignell has long-standing research interests in Samuel Beckett's work for film and television, and has written a study of this work in his book Beckett on Screen.

Jonathan's talk centred on Beckett's only work for cinema, a 20 minute short film, titled Film, created by Beckett and shot under his supervision in 1963. Jonathan spoke of the circumstances that led to the making of Film, which stars the silent comedy actor Buster Keaton and was directed by Alan Schneider, a theatre director and close friend of Beckett's. After the screening Jonathan suggested some of the ways the film may be interpreted. He focused on the contexts of Film's first screenings, the significance of Keaton as the star of the film, and the film's relationship with avant-garde film practice and silent comedy.

As well as the screening attendees were also able to view a display of Reading's unique collection of Beckett's manuscripts and archive materials from the University collections.

For further information: www.reading.ac.uk/beckett

Reading Abbey- Professor Lindy Grant

Professor Grant is working on the history of Reading Abbey. On Researchers' Night she spoke on the history of the Abbey in its European context. Members of the public also had the rare opportunity to take part in a guided tour of Reading Abbey. For some of the lesser known history of the Abbey and its links with the Isle of May, in Scotland, watch Dr Alex Woolf from the University of St Andrews in this video.

Reading Abbey and the Isle of May

Playback: High | Low 

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Theatre workshop on verbatim theatre – Professor Lib Taylor

Lib Taylor - Department of Film, Theatre & Television has just completed an AHRC funded research project on Centre for Television Drama Studies: Acting With Facts, which studied performances by actors in documentary and verbatim theatre. Verbatim theatre is a form of documentary theatre that uses the words of real people to create performance texts. Lib has particular research interests in the work of Recorded Delivery. Blythe records interviews with real people and edits them to produce a theatre text. The edited, recorded text is played to the performers through earphones while they are rehearsing and performing. The actors repeat what they hear, copying not just the words but exactly the way in which they are spoken in the recorded material. Blyth's plays include Come Out Eli, The Girlfriend Experience and London Road, which has recently had enormous success at the National Theatre. In May 2011, Blyth came to Reading with Rustaveli Theatre from Georgia, when their performance of her Do We Look Like Refugees? was the first to be staged in the Minghella Building.  

Prof Lib Taylor speaking about verbatim theatre

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Gutenberg PressThe Gutenberg Press – Anke Ueberberg

Anke explained the workings of Gutenberg's press using a full size working replica, hand-made by Alan May, formerly a lecturer in the Department. Based on research recently published in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society, Alan's press supports the view that a Dürer drawing of an early printing press, long thought erroneous, may in fact be an accurate portrayal.

Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the University, the press featured in the programme was acquired for the Department.

The press and the story of its making featured in 'The machine that made us' programme on BBC4, hosted by Stephen Fry.  

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Prof. Peter Kruschwitz
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