Crossed Lines Report

Report on the Crossed Lines: Literature and Telephony Research Project – December 2020

Led by Dr Sarah Jackson and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nottingham Trent UniversityCrossed Lines: Literature and Telephony examines the ways that the telephone has been conceived by writers from the 19th century to the present day.

In addition to academic research, Crossed Lines has explored the possibilities of calling, communication and technology within contemporary cultures and communities. Engaging diverse groups, among them writers, artists, musicians, scientists, and members of the public, it has incorporated a number of innovative activities including a mobile app, an online symposium, an online exhibition, artistic commissions, and writing workshops with refugees.

For screenshots of website analytics and app downloads, please scroll down.

Inspired by poet and performance artist John Giorno, Dial-a-Poem, a free mobile app developed by Crossed Lines, provides access to 63 contemporary poems by award-winning writers from Africa, America, Asia and Europe, as well as the winning entries of a national poetry competition. Featuring recordings of the authors and translators reading their works aloud, the app invites users to reflect on the relationship between poetry and calling.

Between 5 June and 31 December 2020, the app was downloaded over 400 times, with over 7032 visits to the Dial-a-Poem homepage and related webpages. Testimonials from the featured poets can be found here.

The Telepoetics symposium took place online from 27 May – 5 June 2020. This creative-critical event featured contributions from 23 writers, archivists, activists, curators and academics, who came together to explore how the telephone operates across literary, critical, personal, and political domains.

121 people registered for the event and contributed to the discussions forum; the event was also open to the wider public to listen in to the podcasts, read the discussion, and access the resources. The relevant pages of the Crossed Lines website received 7172 views over a two-week period by participants from 40 countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine.

29 people responses to the anonymous questionnaire distributed at the end of the event, the results of which can be found here.

Online Exhibition
Reflecting on the long history of creative calling, the Crossed Lines project invited contributions to an online exhibition of literary telephones, curated by Dr Jackson, which features over 90 nominations of literary texts spanning over 130 years by writers from around the world.

Between 16 November and 31 December 2020, the exhibition pages of the Crossed Lines website were visited 7478 times. The project also featured in an article in The Guardian entitled ‘Milkman to Mark Twain: online exhibition celebrates telephones in literature’.

The Exchange
Created for the Science Museum Group, The Exchange is an online collection of original art and literary works inspired by objects in the Science Museum Group Collection. Featuring a diverse range of works by writer Will Self, transmedia artist Maya Chowdhry, beatboxer Danny Ladwa, poets Lisa Kelly, Serge Neptune, Nadia Nadarajah and DL Williams, and sound artist Aura Satz, the commissioned pieces reflect a shift towards calling during a period in which society was locked down and forced to communicated remotely. The works were made available to the public on the Science Museum website in September 2020, as well as on the project website, where they have received 1105 visits between 11 September and 31 December 2020.

Calling Across Borders
Calling Across Borders was a collaboration with Compass Collective, a non-profit theatre company supporting young people seeking sanctuary and asylum in the UK. Dr Jackson led a series of online workshops with young refugees during the second national lockdown.

Dr Jackson worked with eight participants and two young ambassadors to explore their relationship with the telephone through the medium of voicemail messages, touching upon themes of loss, resilience, hope and calling across borders. These voicemail messages have been made into a short animated film, which is due to be launched in January 2021.

Below, you can see a snapshot of the website statistics taken 18 December 2020.

Below, you can see a snapshot of the Dial-a-Poem downloads on via the App Store and Google Play.