News

Queen Mary researchers win Covid-19 funding award from the British Academy

A team of researchers from Queen Mary University of London have been awarded a grant from the British Academy to conduct research into children’s responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

17 July 2020

A child girl paints a rainbow on a window during the quarantine for the coronavirus pandemic.
A child girl paints a rainbow on a window during the quarantine for the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Rachel Bryant Davies from Queen Mary’s School of Languages, Linguistics and Film will be the Principal Investigator on the project, Childhood heroes: storytelling survival strategies and role models of resilience to Covid-19 in the UK.

Professor Kiera Vaclavik and Dr Lucie Glasheen, who recently obtained her PhD at Queen Mary, will be the Co-Investigators on the project. All three researchers are members of the Centre for Childhood Cultures at Queen Mary.

The funding from the British Academy is the first Covid-19 research grant awarded to Queen Mary’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences to date.

Mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on children

The British Academy funding supports humanities and social science projects which aim to inform and enrich understandings and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In particular the Queen Mary project will focus on children, whose lives have been disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Alongside reports of heightened anxiety among UK children, fears for widened attainment gaps and exacerbation of inequalities have all impacted on children’s wellbeing. Responses to the pandemic have included storytelling, including rethinking concepts of heroism, however, many of these have been fragmented and undocumented. 

Developing new ways of learning

The team will undertake research into historical children’s interaction with classical role-models in early magazines which forged new communities through distanced learning. Working with a children’s magazine, Storytime, the researchers will also develop creative responses to heroic narratives in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The collaboration with Storytime will result in the creation of an archive of pandemic responses which will be used for future research. The team will also produce print and digital resources to support future ways of learning.

Dr Rachel Bryant Davies, Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary said: “I am thrilled to be given the chance to unite historical research with contemporary public engagement and I am grateful to the British Academy for this opportunity.

“Covid-19 has heightened reported anxiety levels among children in the UK. This work, which is informed by historical research, will help to ensure that children’s voices are not lost and will remain at the forefront of responses to future challenges. I look forward to working with Storytime to deliver this important work.”

Professor Kiera Vaclavik, Director of the Centre for Childhood Cultures at Queen Mary said: “I'm very proud that the Centre for Childhood Cultures was able to marshal this team of researchers to deliver a project which, prompted by the pressing needs of children today, is both grounded in the past and looking to the future.”

Dr Lucie Glasheen, Postdoctoral Researcher and Co-Investigator on the project added: “I'm really excited to be part of the team working on this important and timely project.”

More information

Related items

For media information, contact:

Paul Jordan
Faculty Communications Manager (HSS)
email: p.jordan@qmul.ac.uk