Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham
My project focuses on the often-neglected academic question of how literature is experienced collectively today, using the Hay Festival to analyse the role of older format live events in a digital era. It aims to provide a detailed reflection on the new venues, communities, publication routes and reading experiences that the Internet and social media have enabled. The project will provide the first in-depth academic history of Hay Festival and the evolution of its live 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.
The project will also collect a unique dataset of research interviews with key individuals at Hay Festival organisation, offering vital insider perspectives and information to be captured for analysis. Working with British Library and Hay Festival staff, I will develop a digital exhibition of archival materials, hosted by Hay Festival and timed to coincide with their 35th anniversary in 2023.