The Memory Network’s PI, Professor Sebastian Groes (English Literature, Wolverhampton), is leading research on an ambitious new BBC engagement project to mark the 300th anniversary of the English Language novel. Starting in January 2020, “The Novels That Shaped Our World” is a year-long project that asks the public in Great Britain and beyond to debate a selection of 100 novels that have impacted upon the nation since Robinson Crusoe, 300 years ago. The project is accompanied by a nationwide Festival, programmes on BBC TV and Radio and a collaboration with libraries and reading groups throughout the UK.
Once the novels have been chosen by a celebrity panel, a team from the University of Wolverhampton will provide quantitative and qualitative analysis of the public’s reading preferences and judgement of literary quality.
Professor Groes said: “It’s an honour to be involved in such a high-profile project which will see myself along with Professor Van Dalen-Oskam lead a team of computational linguistics and English Literature scholars to analyse the public’s engagement with these 100 novels. “We will investigate the ways in which age, gender, ethnicity and place are involved in shaping readers’ judgement of the novels in terms of genre, theme and degree of difficulty.”
The role of memory is also involved in the research: the Memory Network will ask the British public to give details about their memories of fiction before giving their experience of rereading novels. The Memory Network is interested in understanding how people remember fictional stories and that emotions they associate with novels and characters. Updates will be posted in November.