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TLRH |Reading Rooms: Fostering Constructive and Inclusive Dialogue between Communities

Tuesday, 14 June 2022, 9:45am – 12:30pm

TLRH |Reading Rooms: Fostering Constructive and Inclusive Dialogue between Communities

This online symposium is part of an inter-disciplinary research project (Trinity College Dublin & Verbal) that investigates and advances the potential of shared reading groups to stimulate purposeful cross-community dialogue among Northern Ireland interface communities. The partners aim to design a new framework and identify suitable literary texts for cross-community groups; conduct pilot shared reading groups; seek feedback from participants on group processes in relation to health and well-being, literary texts, and shared futures; and present findings in a report. This symposium is an opportunity to share initial findings and to invite members from various communities and sectors to contribute to feedback and discussions that will inform the research project.

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The purpose of the symposium is for members of TCD and Verbal (a community-arts organisation with over 30 years’ experience working to improve cross-community relations) to share their findings to date and to discuss their research with those from community, education, arts, health and cultural sectors. This input will further inform the writing of the final report over the coming months. This is an exciting opportunity to bring all of these voices together to collaborate on a scalable intervention that could (in the future) be used to foster cross-border dialogue as well as cross-community dialogue within Northern Ireland, and therefore ‘build consensus on a shared future.’

Storytelling and literature are proven to be engaging and accessible tools in the facilitation of impactful cross-community dialogue. However, currently, there is no model for the effective selection of literature and this research contributes to addressing this need. Using participatory action research to foreground the voices of vulnerable and marginalised participants, TCD have carried out a thematic narrative analysis to determine what types of stories and topics are most effective in making tangible progress towards empathy and reconciliation in interface communities in Belfast. 

Trinity College Dublin and Verbal have collaborated on this cross-border research project, to create a scalable Reading Rooms model that can be rolled out across other community projects, with the potential of promoting intergroup empathy. The project is funded by the Irish Research Council and the Department of the Taoiseach’s Shared Island Initiative.

Keynote:  Oein DeBharduin, 'Minceir Lesko: Echoes and new soundings"
Oein DeBhairduin is a creative soul with a passion for poetry, folk herbalism and preserving the beauty of Traveller tales, sayings, retellings and historic exchanges. His debut folktale collection, Why the Moon Travels is a haunting collection of tales rooted in the oral tradition of the traveller community and was awarded the Judges Special Award and the Eilís Dillon Award at the KPMG Children's Books Ireland Awards 2021. Oein is the manager of an education centre and a long-time board member of several Mincéirí community groups, including having had the honour of being vice-chair of the Irish Traveller Movement and a council member of Mincéir Whidden. He seeks to pair community activism with cultural celebration, recalling old tales with fresh modern connections and, most of all, he wishes to rekindle the hearth fires of a shared kinship. 

Dr Pádraic Whyte is associate professor of English and a director of the master’s programme in Children's Literature at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of the board of directors of The Ark: A Cultural Centre for Children and is co-founder of the National Collection of Children's Books project. He is Co–Principal Investigator on the Reading Rooms and brings his expertise in literary analysis and reader-response theories to this project.
Dr Liz Nixon is associate professor in Developmental Psychology at the School of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin. She is a Co-Investigator on Growing up in Ireland, the national longitudinal study of children in Ireland. She is Co–Principal Investigator on the Reading Rooms and brings her experience of doing qualitative research to this project.  

James Kerr is Chief Executive Officer at Verbal. He is a graduate of The Courtauld Institute (London) and Queen’s University Belfast. He was a recent Ministerial Appointment to Cultural Recovery Taskforce looking at how best to support the arts & culture sector post Covid 19 and has previously been a Board member of the Arts Council.

Dr Kendra Reynolds is Research Associate in Literature for Verbal in Derry, Northern Ireland. In her current role, she researches the potential of literature to facilitate important conversations and to improve mental health and wellbeing for both children and adults in local communities. She is passionate about literature’s ability to inspire change.

Verbal are a community-arts organisation based in Derry LondonDerry. Verbal have over 30 years' experience of working with communities in Northern Ireland and bring this wealth of knowledge and experience to their role as partners in this project. 


Campus Location: Online
Accessibility: N/A
Room: Online
Event Category: Arts and Culture, Conferences
Type of Event: One-time event
Audience: Researchers, Faculty & Staff, Public
Cost: Free
Contact Name: Siobhán Callaghan

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