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Our research – University of Reading

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  • ""Deep reading" - as opposed to the often superficial reading we do on the Web - is an endangered practice, one we ought to take steps to preserve as we would a historic building or a significant work of art." Annie Murphy Paul

Our research


25% of our research outputs were considered world leading. A further 51% of our work was judged to be internationally excellent. Our research environment is above the national average. In this lively and exciting context, we are pleased to note an advance upon our 2008 RAE average rating for outputs. When viewed in relation to the percentage of staff entered and our ranking, we are in the top third of UK English Literature departments and look forward to building upon this strong position and its relation to our teaching in the next REF.

Our Research Groups: many researchers within English are actively involved in collaborative and interdisciplinary research centres and groupings.

Publications from the Department of English Literature: we share with you here our research publications, which can also be found at CentAUR: Central Archive at the University of Reading 

Research Projects: projects by researchers within the department develop specialist knowledge in our areas of excellence.

Collaborations and Networks: collaborative and interdisciplinary work informs much of the research within the department.

Current research projects

The Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (Dr Mark Nixon)

Tell-samuel-beckett-ma-modulehe University of Reading is home to the world's largest collection of resources relating to Samuel Beckett, which is administered by the Beckett International Foundation. The Director of the Foundation, Dr Mark Nixon, is co-directing an international project which aims to present, in facsimile and transcription, all of Beckett's manuscripts held in collections around the world in an electronic environment.
Dr Nixon has had an avid interest in Beckett's work since the beginning of his undergraduate degree. When choosing a higher education institution, Mark found Reading the obvious choice due to its wealth of original and secondary Beckett resources. He pursued his passion for Beckett throughout his Doctorate and is still engaged in related research today.
The research involved in the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project influences Mark's teaching enormously. In terms of practical skills, the digitisation of manuscripts directly relates to his Part Three module The Writer's Workshop: Studying Manuscripts. In addition, Beckett's manuscripts are also studied on Mark's part three Samuel Beckett module.

Children's Literature (Professor Karín Lesnik-Oberstein)

PMagazinerofessor Karín Lesnik-Oberstein is the director of Reading's Graduate Centre for International Research in Childhood: Literature, Culture, and Media (CIRCL). Members of CIRCL are united by a passionate interest in theoretical ideas of how we culturally, politically, socially, and scientifically treat and define childhood. CIRCL is associated with the University of Reading's Children's Literature MA course, the oldest accredited degree in the field in Britain. The research published through CIRCL has received worldwide academic recognition and acclaim.
Karín has undertaken numerous individual and collaborative research projects. These research activities are not restricted to children's literature; rather, they are inter-disciplinary. For instance, she is currently researching ideas of childhood relating to psychology, sociology, philosophy and anthropology. The unifying thread of Karín's research is her passion for deconstructing cultural and social preconceptions. She constantly questions why we believe and what influences belief, to address the heart of her subject matter.
Karín believes undergraduates who study at a research-led institute have many advantages. As she points out, researching staff are themselves actively learning and reassessing their ideas on particular concepts, which allows them to stretch their students' thinking. This means that the teaching content is dynamic, as it constantly evolves out of the dialogue between the student and the lecturer. This includes the teaching of cutting edge theories and material, but not exclusively. After all, it is important to recognise that concepts should not be dismissed due to their age, as many older theories are still relevant and useful today. This wide scope between current and past material is effectively broached by a research-active lecturer, giving students the best possible chance of acquiring a well-rounded understanding of a subject. In addition, a general ambition for the research-led lecturer is to develop a student's critical approach to a subject. As in her own research, Karin encourages her students to deconstruct, and question their preconceptions and beliefs on topics.


Digitising Early Poetry Anthologies (Professor Michelle O'Callaghan)
Books and pen

Professor Michelle O'Callaghan is Director of the Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC) and has recently completed a project to digitise early modern texts, in particular, the Elizabethan poetry miscellanies or anthologies, bringing them together so they can be made available via an online database. There are two main strands to her research, both of which are actively creating resources for students.
Michelle, together with her research assistant on the project, Alice Eardley enhanced the XML transcriptions from the EEBO database by enriching their tagging function and providing editorial annotations. The resulting database is housed on a website providing contextual information on the printers, publishers, editors and authors involved in the composition of the Elizabethan poetry miscellanies:

The second aspect of the project involved creating 'the common placer' software tool. This software tool takes its name from the early modern practice of commonplacing in which extracts are selected from other texts and compiled into a personal miscellany or commonplace book. 'The common placer' allows users to cut parts of the texts made available in the database of Elizabethan poetry miscellanies and paste the cuttings into a virtual workspace. This digitising project has a direct impact on Michelle's teaching. She introduces XML-TEI tagging and the theory and practice behind digital editions as part of her third year module, 'The Digital Text'.


Our researchers

Learn more about our world-renowned researched staff.

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