The AHRC Commons

I spent today at the AHRC Commons at the University of York. It was a fascinating, inspiring event which brought together aspects of research across the arts and humanities sectors; topics ranging from memory and comics through to films on human trafficking through to 3-d printed skulls. A smorgasbord of stuff, and presented in a way that I felt was quite unusual for the academic world and brave; seminars ran alongside performances, and hackathons formed the backdrops to live performances. I loved it. I’m at the stage in my research where I’m thinking about evolving certain aspects of it and so, to get to see projects where people have done that? It’s a gift.

I wanted to share some of those projects and events that I found most relevant and intriguing here. I’d recommend a check of the programme as well, even though the event has ended; it’s one of those programmes full of names and projects to google. The hashtag is well worth a look as well.

Rachel Smith from Seven Stories (the blessed holy grail of children’s literature) spoke about their collaborative work with Newcastle University. The focus that Seven Stories has on broadening access to literature is something very important to me and I am a frank admirer of their work. I was particularly excited to hear about the Warrior Women Book-Hack which was ‘ A book hack with female ex-service personnel, to change the missing or misrepresented lives in picture books for children.‘ Unfortunately I wasn’t able to speak with the team themselves regarding this (the pitfalls of such a short time with so many people to see!) but trust me, I’m determined to find out more.

I enjoyed hearing about Poetic Places; an app which allows you to discover locations referenced in poetry and literature. The app itself is currently focused on London but is accessible at a distance meaning that you don’t need to be walking down Oxford Street to find a poem set in the area. I particularly loved how the app is set up to run in the background and to send you a notification when you’re in a tagged area.

Another app which intrigued me was Artcasting. This app allows individuals to ‘cast’ an artwork into the future or a different location. So, for example (if I understood it correctly!), if you’re stood in a gallery in Edinburgh, you can cast an image from that gallery through to Munich and people there with the app can receive that cast. It’s a gorgeous premise; this releasing of art and I was excited to chat with the team about the text based potential.

The event today was, as I understood it, the first of its kind. I really hope it’s not the last. There’s something quite indelibly exciting about such a tumultous, vivid, clash of research that covers such a vast, diverse area. My thanks to the organisers and thanks to the people I chatted with. I am inspired.




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