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Researchers reveal BBC Arts project findings at literature festival


The Novel Perceptions team at the University of Wolverhampton is set to reveal headline findings from their BBC Arts project at Birmingham Literature Festival.

The BBC Arts project ‘The Novels That Shaped Our World' has celebrated English language fiction with a 100-strong list of novels designed to spark debates about the fiction that has had the largest impact on Britain.

The Novel Perceptions team conducted a reader survey as part of the BBC’s Novel’s That Shaped Our World project, asking readers to rate ten novels with themes of subversion, revolution and overturning conventions – from rebelling against the government in George Orwell’s modern classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, to examining gender and sexuality in Orlando by Virginia Woolf or Ali Smith’s How to Be Both. 

Members of the Novel Perceptions team, Professor Sebastian Groes and Dr Tom Mercer will reveal their findings at the Birmingham Literature Festival on October 9.

The team will discuss how the public responded to the novels with insightful results from psychological research and computational analyses.

Professor Sebastian Groes from the School of Humanities, at the University of Wolverhampton and Novel Perceptions’ Principal Investigator said: “We’re delighted to have been working with BBC Arts on the ‘Novels that shaped our world’ project - demonstrating the relevance of literature for our world. 

“We’re excited to be sharing our results at the Birmingham Literacy Festival to reveal how these novels help us see the world more clearly and to showcase some of the divisions that exist in society today and how reading might enable us to overcome them.”

The ten books included in the survey were: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell; Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville; A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole; Orlando by Virginia Woolf; Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter; Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde; Habibi by Craig Thompson; The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie; Psmith, Journalist by P. G. Wodehouse; and How to be Both by Ali Smith. 

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