Large research project on 18th-20th Century reading practices and experiences in Europe receives funding

European Research Horizon 2020 Grant for José de Kruif

A woman is reading, the chambermaid brings tea, 1775 by Pehr Hilleström
A woman is reading, the chambermaid brings tea, 1775 by Pehr Hilleström

Dr José de Kruif, team leader of the Digital Humanities Lab in Utrecht, will develop a tool with international partners that can be used to research 18th-20th century reading practices and experiences in Europe.

In this period people wrote letters and in diaries all over Europe. Researchers within this project are interested in what is written in these documents on publications in this period. José de Kruif: “Think of publications like books, pamphlets and articles. What did people write about a certain book? If you are interested in how a certain text of Rousseau is received this tool can help.”

With this tool researcher can also track down forgotten texts. In the end, it should be possible to enter a publication and see what is written on this publication by whom and when.

Most sources are scattered all over Western Europe and some are not digitalised.

This Cultural heritage is a rich ‘human archive’ in multiple media and languages depicting a transaction between reading subjects and reading material. Yet it is currently scattered and insufficiently tagged. Without gathering, describing and structuring, it remains unknown. Innovative tools are also needed to leverage community and critical engagement with this common heritage, thereby preserving and enriching it.


The project titled READ-IT:  READING EUROPE ADVANCED DATA INVESTIGATION TOOL combines interdisciplinary expertise of several institutions across Europe. Prof. B. Ouvry-Vial, Université du Maine and Dr G. Gravier, Institut de Recherche en Informatique et Systèmes Aléatoires in France, Dr S. Towheed, Open University in England, Dr M. Wögerbauer, Institute of Czech Literature of the CAS, Chech Republic, Dr J. de Kruif, Digital Humanities Lab, Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands.