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From Shakespeare to Neath Abbey – five new research projects funded by RIAH

Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) is pleased to announce five grants have been awarded from the Research Initiatives Fund to new research projects in the College of Arts and Humanities. 

  • 'Visualising Re-Translation Variation: Othello'

A project led by Dr Tom Cheesman (Modern Languages) and also involving Dr David Berry (Political and Cultural Studies), Dr Laramee (Computer Science), and Professor Andy Rothwell (Translation and Digital Communication) has been awarded a grant of £13,567. 

The project, titled 'Visualising Re-Translation Variation: Othello' promises to lead to an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Grant application in July 2011. 

The project investigates the differences between large numbers of versions of Shakespeare’s play Othello in German and French. The project team aim to create digital displays – data visualisations – which will enable viewers to see, at a glance, where a play has been translated, and in what way, and to zoom in on details. 

It will also allow them to explore the variations between versions which reflect the translators’ times and beliefs. 

  • 'A survey of the Neath Abbey estates, 12th-17th centuries'

A project led by Professor Daniel Power (History and Classics), titled 'A survey of the Neath Abbey estates, 12th-17th centuries', has been awarded a grant of £9,651. 

Neath Abbey was one of the most important monasteries in medieval Wales, and its site and surrounding landscape have a history that goes back nearly 2000 years, from the nearby Roman fort to its modern industrial heritage, including the 18th-century copperworks that were built in the Abbey itself.  

This three-month project will trace the history of Neath Abbey's property from the Abbey's foundation in the early 12th century to the dispersal of its estates after the dissolution of the abbey during the Reformation.  It will put the history of the Abbey on a new footing and will identify the published and manuscript evidence for the Abbey's history.  

The project is intended as the first stage in a major reinterpretation of the site and its environs by members of Swansea University’s Department of History and Classics, in conjunction with public bodies such as Cadw and the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales (RCAHMW). 

This project is designed to lead to an AHRC Research Grant application early in 2012. 

  • The Association of South-East Asian Nations’ new Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights

Dr Alan Collins and Dr Gerard Clarke (Political and Cultural Studies), have been awarded a grant of £7,060, to develop an innovative research project on the Association of South-East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) new Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). 

In May 2011, they will visit Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to meet potential research collaborators and key AICHR stakeholders, including representatives of national human rights commissions and human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs). 

The AICHR is a new body for ASEAN, which has a membership that has traditionally shied away from such sensitive topics as human rights; including as it does monarchical, communist, military and semi-authoritarian governments. 

The AICHR represents a key test for ASEAN’s rhetorical claims of altering its image as an organisation for the elite by building a “people-oriented” community in Southeast Asia. 

This is a significant moment in the AICHR’s history, and a number of regionally-based stakeholders are watching with interest and seeking to influence decisions. It is these stakeholders that the researchers will meet and assess what mandate the AICHR will have and how it will operate within the ASEAN bureaucracy. 

  • 'From citizenship to security: military literacy and young people'

A project titled led by Dr Helen Brocklehurst (Political and Cultural Studies), titled 'From citizenship to security: military literacy and young people', has been awarded a grant of £5,000. This will lead to a collaborative bid to the Rowntree Trust in July 2011.

The project will investigate the production of books and websites which focus on terrorism and the ‘war on terror’ and are written for children aged from four upwards. It will provide an archive of reference and picture book material on terrorism published in the UK and the USA. 

The research will compare the representation of contemporary terrorism in these resources and investigate how publishers use images and themes of fear, identity and citizenship. The research will begin to establish which, if any, texts are used to support school curricula and the degree to which books are bought and also accessed in libraries. 

It will question if publishers demonstrate a powerful anticipation of children’s political and military literacy which may be below the radar of parents and teachers. It will also research how, and why, publishers generate these texts and begin to explore these issues with teachers and librarians. 

  • 'Looting matters: authority and Web 2.0'

A project led by Dr David Gill (History and Classics) and also involving Dr Wang (Computer Science), titled 'Looting matters: authority and Web 2.0', has been awarded a grant of £3,800. 

This will feed in to a Knowledge Transfer Partnership bid in the early spring of 2011 and potentially to an AHRC Research Grant application in April 2011. 

For further information on Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, visit




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