About The Festival

A collaboration with the Edinburgh International Book Festival. 

The Festival site aims to find new ways of exploring reading, the imagination and mental health. It does this by combining research and theory with large-scale public engagement and collaboration with a major arts festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Theoretical Directions

Durham’s collaboration with the Book Festival goes back to the original phase of Hearing the Voice (2012-2015) and a focus on the role of voices in the reading and writing of fiction. This led to two major papers on the experience of characters’ voices for readers (Alderson-Day, Bernini, & Fernyhough, 2017) and writers (Foxwell et al., 2020), plus the Writers’ Inner Voices project. 

For the Platform, the Festival is a space for all Labs to test out new ideas and methods. The main part of our research plans, though, comes from a combination of psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive literary studies. In collaboration with the Narrative and Cognition Lab (led by Dr Marco Bernini) we have designed a series of quizzes, surveys, and tasks that explore the outer limits and diversity of the narrative imagination. These activities form the basis of the ReaderBank, a growing online database of research on reading which festival-goers can take part in and contribute to year on year. Over the first three years of the Platform we will pilot progressively more ambitious elements of the ReaderBank, with a view to creating an independent collaborative resource for future interdisciplinary research on reading by 2026.  

Two men talking. A window with bunting is in the background.