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The Literature House in the Digital Age: New Directions for Literary Heritage

School of Arts and Creative Industries

About the Project

This Applied Research Collaborative Studentship, supported by the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), offers a position for an interdisciplinary PhD researcher to contribute to the development of a ‘Literature House’ for Edinburgh, in partnership with the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, and researchers at Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust was established in 2004, the first city to receive the designation. It is now one of 39 cities of literature across 28 countries, and occupies a leading role in the international network supported by UNESCO. Building on 16 years of success promoting Edinburgh’s literary history, supporting new Scottish writing, and leading the way for newly-designated cities of literature around the world, the Trust is now undertaking a new project, establishing a ‘Literary Quarter’ on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to give literary activities a permanent physical presence for the benefit of residents and visitors. In partial fulfilment of this aim, the Trust is repurposing the historic John Knox House as a ‘Literature House’ as a focus for Scottish writing (

The Trust has partnered with researchers at Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Edinburgh to develop the Literature House and Literary Quarter as immersive digitally-mediated experiences, drawing on forefront research in the Digital and Public Humanities. The Trust wants to deepen this partnership by appointing a PhD researcher who can support achievement of their strategic goals. This PhD researcher will situate the Edinburgh Literature House within the history of such institutions, to establish a context for an investigation of how the Literature House can now meet the needs of communities and stakeholders in an era of rapid technological change. The PhD project will involve historical and theoretical research, and the gathering and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data regarding user and stakeholder attitudes, expectations and modes of engagement. It will also involve analysis of how digital capabilities might be used within the Literature House to fulfil strategic objectives, engaging users at local, national and global levels. Alongside academic research, this studentship includes six months on placement with the City of Literature Trust, participating in planning and delivery for the initial public launch of the Literature House, and contributing to community engagement activities.

This PhD studentship, which includes fees and a stipend for maintenance costs for 3.5 years of study, is jointly funded by SGSAH, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh, and the UNESCO City of Literature Trust. The student will be formally enrolled at Edinburgh Napier University, and co-supervised by a team of three project partners from ENU, UoE and UNESCO. The student will also participate in training and events organised the SGSAH.

The Studentship start date is 1st March 2021. Applications should be submitted by 5 pm on 1st November 2020 via Edinburgh Napier University’s Research Degrees website, following the link for full-time application to Creative Industries: Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview, likely by online videoconference.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in English or Literary Studies, Digital and/or Public Humanities, Informatics, History, Heritage Design, Museum Studies, or related area. A master’s degree in a closely related area is also required, with a good fundamental knowledge of either literary history and criticism, digital literature or culture, and/or cultural heritage, at an appropriate level.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental qualitative and historical research and analysis.
• Competent in relevant research methods and skills at a commensurate level, communicating academic research to non-academic stakeholders, project management, and team working.
• Knowledge of either literary history and criticism, digital literature or culture, and/or cultural heritage, at an appropriate level.
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:
-Experience of researching or working with digital technologies, design and user experience, and/or community engagement would be welcome.
-An interest in applied research and long-term working in digital cultural heritage.

Funding Notes


Indicative Bibliography Arcos-Pumarola, Jordi, et al. ‘The Concept of Literary Heritage: A Definition through Bibliographic Review’, Forum for World Literature Studies, 11.1 (2019): 97+.

Herbert, David. ‘Heritage as Literary Place’, in Heritage, Tourism and Society, ed. by David Herbert (London: Mansell, 1995), pp. 212-221.

Herbert, David. ‘Literary Places, Tourism and the Heritage Experience’, Annals of Tourism Research 28.2 (2001): 312-333.

Carson, Susan, Lesley Hawkes, Kari Gislason and Kate Cantrell. ‘Literature, Tourism and the City: Writing and Cultural Change’, Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 15.4 (2017): 380-392.

Gouriévidis, L. ‘Heritage, transnational memory and the re-diasporisation of Scotland’, International Journal of Heritage Studies 22.4 (2016): 277–290.

Engelking, T. L. ‘Literary tourism and la maison de Colette: An interview with Frédéric Maget’, French Review 92.1. (2018): 184–197.

Schittich, Christian. ‘Literature Museum in Marbach’, in Exhibitions and Displays : Museum Design Concepts, Brand Presentation, Trade Show Design, (Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2009), pp. 32-35.

Cameron, Fiona, and Sarah Kenderdine. Theorizing digital cultural heritage: a critical discourse (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007).

Reunanen, Markku, Díaz, Lily and Horttana, Tommi. ‘A Holistic User-Centered Approach to Immersive Digital Cultural Heritage Installations’, Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage 7.4 (2015): 1–16.

Pandu Rangan, C , et al. Digital Cultural Heritage (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2018).

LitLong: Edinburgh, version 2.0. James Loxley (Editor), Tara Thomson (Editor), Claire Grover, (Other), Victoria Anker (Other), Claire Sowton (Other), Mark Haddon (Designer), Neil Ballantyne (Developer), Sian Bevan (Other), Roland Gulliver (Other), Muireann Crowley (Other). 2017. Available at

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