Research Fellow wins ‘Public Engagement with Research’ Award
Dr Hazel Wilkinson’s website journallists.org, which allows readers to engage with instalments of periodicals, diaries, letters, and novels, on the anniversaries of the day on which they were originally published, has been presented with a ‘Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Award’ from the University of Cambridge.
Dr Hazel Wilkinson, Fitzwilliam Fellow in English, researches the history of reading and writing habits in the eighteenth century. In collaboration with Dr Will Bowers at the University of Oxford, she developed the online public platform journallists.org. The service delivers by email, Lord Byron’s diary entries on the days they were written, Dickens’s Hard Times in its original instalments, and the original issues of the Spectator on a daily basis. This allows readers to rediscover the original circumstances of writing and production, as well as providing a way of breaking down large texts into manageable chunks, and integrating historical texts into the daily digital routine of email and social media.
Adopting this engaged research methodology has allowed Dr Wilkinson to recreate an environment to study historical reading practices in the modern digital era. Her approach has allowed members of the public to actively participate in research, with feedback from subscribers leading to the selection of new texts and providing content for research articles. On a broader level she has also inspired thousands of readers to engage with under-read eighteenth and nineteenth century texts, often for the very first time.
Dr Wilkinson said “I am very pleased to receive this award. My collaborator Dr Bowers and I hope that the award will help us to get even more people reading with JournalLists, so that we can continue involving the public in our research. We enjoy sharing our favourite historical texts with our subscribers, and discovering new ones thanks to their feedback.”
These Public Engagement with Research Awards were set up this year to recognise and reward those who undertake quality public engagement with research. The 2016 winners were announced at an Awards Ceremony on Monday 20 June 2016, hosted by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. Dr Wilkinson and the other five winners received a trophy and a personal cash prize of £1,000.
Update - 27 February 2017: Dr Hazel Wilkinson, ‘Public Engagement with Research’ Award winner 2016 (video)
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Image kindly provided by the University of Cambridge's Public Engagement Team.