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Ellen Addis

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Hay Festival and Reading in the Digital Age

My project focuses on the often-neglected academic question of how literature is experienced collectively today, collaborating with Hay Festival to analyse the role of live events in a digital era and how this has been affected by the pandemic. It provides a detailed reflection on the new venues, communities, publication routes and reading experiences that the Internet and social media have enabled. My project also provides the first in-depth academic history of Hay Festival and the evolution of its events strategy, contributing to both the story of arts organisations in modern Britain and the emergence of literary festivals as an international phenomenon in an era transitioning to digital connectivity. My project has collected a unique dataset of research interviews with key individuals at Hay Festival, offering vital insider perspectives and information to be captured for analysis. I have catalogued the entire paper archive of the Hay Festival at the British Library, and next year I will work with British Library and Hay Festival to develop a digital exhibition of archival materials, hosted by Hay Festival and timed to coincide with their 35th anniversary in 2023.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


November 2021: Paper presentation at the Books on Screen symposium with University of Leeds and Anglia Ruskin University, titled "The tethered object: The book at the digital literary festival".

April 2021: Digital short titled "'We are where we aren't": Place at the digital literary festival" at the Royal Geographical Society's PGF 2021 Midterm Conference - in the session "Digital Geographies and the Everyday", hosted by the Digital Geographies Research Group.