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REACT Knowledge Exchange Hub


REACT (Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology) is one of four UK Creative Economy Hubs, it is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council until early 2016 and is a collaboration between the University of the West of England, Watershed, (and iShed), and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

REACT funds collaborations between creative economy companies and Arts and Humanities scholars at its partner universities. These collaborations will make innovative use of academic research and technological know-how to share academic knowledge with new audiences, generate economic value in the creative economy and move forward the scope of digital technology.

The main REACT website has details of funded projects and upcoming events. Find further information on University of Exeter projects and PhDs below.

REACT projects

Co-investigators: Prof Regenia Gagnier and Dr Matt Hayler
Artists: Davy & Kristin McGuireand the Royal Shakespeare Company
Award: £30k (fEC) REACT Prototype Award, June 2014

Learn more about the project on the REACT Hub website, where you can read Dr Hayler's blog post, and read about the recent event in the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol where the Theatre Book Macbeth was introduced.

Principal Investigator: Prof Fabrizio Nevola (Art History and Visual Culture)
Creative Economy Partners: app developer Calvium, cinematographer Ross Gill, historian Dr David Rosenthal
Award: £10k HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund June 2014 and £30k AHRC Follow-on Funding January 2013

Watch the short film about the free smartphone history tour app, visit the project website and read a news article about it. Download the app for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Principal Investigator: Dr James Ryan (Geography)
Creative Economy Partner: Kin Design
Award: £15k (fEC) REACT Feasibility Fund, March 2014 and £4k HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund November 2014.

Learn more about the project in the blog and the REACT Hub website.

Principal Investigator: Dr James Lyons (English)    
Creative Economy Partner: Rubber Republic 
Award:£50K (fEC) REACT Future Documentary Sandbox Autumn 2013

Watch a video and read more about the project on the REACT Hub web page. The team successfully pitched to an industry audience at the Ramillas Interactive Fund Pitch to win a beautiful trophy and prize of €3,000 towards further development. Read more about the success at Sheffield Interactive here.

Principal Investigator: Prof Fabrizio Nevola (Art History and Visual Culture)
Creative Economy Partners: Amblr and author James Attlee.
Award: HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund £6k, November 2013 continuing work from originally funded REACT Books and Print Sandbox (£50K fEC) completed at the University of Bath.

Learn more about the project in the author’s blog and the REACT Hub website

Principal Investigator: Dr Nicola Thomas (Geography)
Creative Economy Partner: Bow Software
Award: £10,500 HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund July 2013 and  £50K (fEC) REACT Books and Print Sandbox January 2013.

Watch a video and read more about the project on the  REACT Hub website.

This project was shortlisted for the 2013 Exeter Impact Award for 'Enterprise'.

Principal Investigator: Professor Emma Cayley (Modern Languages).
Creative Economy Partner: Antenna International
Awards: £30K (fEC) REACT Project Fund May 2013 and £6,250 HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund April 2012.

Professor Emma Cayley, is leading a project to build an ipad app to explore medieval manuscripts and culture, in partnership with Antenna International. Antenna International and Emma are conducting market research into how such an app might work to explore manuscripts, medieval poetry and game culture, through the tenth century Exeter Book held at Exeter Cathedral and the Syon Abbey medieval manuscripts in Special Collections at the University of Exeter.

Project aims

The project aims to create an iPad app to introduce young people to the amazing world of medieval manuscripts. The REACT HEIF award allowed the project to organise focus groups and workshops in schools, as well as an exhibition at the Cathedral, to explore how young people may want to engage with such an app. 

Through the app users will go on a journey into the past to discover the history of the places the manuscripts come from and the people and communities that made and owned these incredible and beautiful objects. They will be able to engage directly with images and stories from the manuscripts themselves, luxuriating in the glorious illuminations, and participating in the narratives. They will help to design the App, and feed into its development, becoming co-creators as well as detectives tracing our local heritage. 

We are so lucky in Devon to have so many of these fabulous and important objects on our doorstep (such as the famous tenth century Exeter Book, kept in the Cathedral Library). The Exeter Book contains the world’s largest collection of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) poetry, and features the Exeter Riddles: a collection of ninety-six literary enigmas. The book itself is an enigma, with pages missing or partially burned away. It has been used and abused over the course of its ten centuries of life, and its survival is nothing short of miraculous. The poetry contained within the Exeter Book teaches us some fundamental and simple human truths about love and death, loss and longing, wisdom and vanity. 

People usually never see these manuscripts as they are preserved in secure storage. Manuscript study is not part of a traditional school curriculum. The Exeter Manuscripts project aims to reverse that invisibility and that neglect, and help Devon to rediscover its written heritage.

This project was shortlisted for the 2013 Exeter Impact Award for 'Outstanding impact in arts and culture'.


Principal Investigator: Professor Gabriella Giannachi (English)
Creative Economy Partner: Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter (RAMM)
Awards: £30K (fEC) REACT Project Fund January 2013 and £6,250 HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund April 2012.

Moor Stories: Reimaging the Dartmoor Landscape generates creative encounters between objects housed in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) in Exeter and the regional locations of Dartmoor where they were discovered.

Project aims

Moor Stories is a collaboration between University of Exeter, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) and 1010 Media, which has led to the development of a website and web-app that allow users to write stories, using a variety of media, about objects in RAMM’s collection pertaining to Dartmoor.

The project aimed to facilitate the encounter with interpretation about museum objects outside of the museum in order to stimulate reflection and creative responses about the relationships between these objects and the sites and oral histories of Dartmoor where they originated. The R&D for the project, carried out through consultations with schools in Exeter, local history societies on Dartmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authority, was disseminated to wider audiences through a blog ( which has thus far been read in 73 countries.

The Moor Stories website (, accessible from RAMM’s own website, already has 129 stories which are filtered according to type (creative, factual and schools) and by time period (origins, prehistoric, Roman, Medieval, Victorian and Modern). Two learning packs, one for young learners and one for generic learners are linked to the website.

PhD candidate Will Barrett researches digital interaction with heritage and he is part of the Moor Stories and Time Trailsproject teams

Further links

Moor Stories Project website 
Moor Stories Project blog 
Moor Stories Project page on RAMM website

Principal Investigators: Professor Kate Fisher (History) and Dr Rebecca Langlands (Classics and Ancient History)
Creative Economy Partner: Sophie Sampson
Award: £15K (fEC) REACT Pump Priming January 2013

Dr Rebecca Langlands and Professor Kate Fisher co-direct the Sex and History project, working with museums, schools and young people throughout the South West. Sophie Sampson is an award-winning maker of educational games and interactive narrative, working on digital, paper-based and live projects from transmedia for films to physical games in streets and museums.

Project aims

The University of Exeter’s Sex and History project is an award-winning and innovative initiative which aims to empower people of all ages – and especially young people – to talk more openly about sex and discuss the issues that really matter to them in a supportive but stimulating environment. 

This project brings together experts in the history of sex and sexual knowledge with game makers to change the face of sex education. They investigated new methods of using erotic objects from distant times and cultures to stimulate embarrassment-free discussion about sex in schools and youth groups. It's proved hugely effective, particularly with disadvantaged youth.

The project explored and tested the validity of using sexually-themed objects from distant times and cultures to stimulate embarrassment-free discussion about sex in schools and youth groups. This harnesses the transformative effect of learning about what people from across time and place have thought about desire, arousal, intimacy, gender, body image, beauty, power and control.

It's proved hugely effective, both in mainstream educational settings and in more intensive, creative work with disadvantaged or vulnerable young people. Exploring different cultural attitudes takes people outside themselves and their everyday concerns, brings fresh eyes to our own ideas, encourages us to critically deconstruct our social norms and quite simply shows us that sex is nothing new and it’s OK to talk about it.

At the heart of the project is a methodology developed by Langlands and Fisher that uses museum objects from past cultures such as ancient Rome or China as a starting point for discussion, debate and creative responses.

Such museum collections have proved ideal for stimulating discussion about sex and reflection on contemporary issues. They showcase global cultural diversity, provide historical distance that makes the discussion more impersonal and less intimidating, and demonstrate that sex has been a concern to people for centuries.

The distance of history combined with the immediacy of thought-provoking objects make the experience less personal, helping to encourage young people to open up about the issues that concern them – whether it be puberty, the power dynamics of sexual relationships, sexuality or sexually transmitted infections etc.

Please visit our project website:


Activities have included workshops and creative projects in dance, drama, film and art projects in schools and charity groups and numerous events and museum exhibitions including a successful exhibition ‘Revealing Collections’ at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.

2014 saw a major exhibition at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter of erotic objects from the Collection of Sir Henry Wellcome. The project enhances the role of regional museums in the South West in social change and well-being in the wider community, and also makes a lasting contribution to policy on sex and relationship education. The project recently won an Award for Outstanding Social and Cultural Impact

Read more about this project on the Sex and History website and the REACT Hub web page. There is also a video on the project available here

Principal Investigator: Professor Gabriella Giannachi (English)
Creative Economy Partners: Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery1010 Media and Exeter City FC Supporters' Trust
Award: £10K Innovation Voucher in January 2014 and £15,740 HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund 2013-2014

Placeify interactive web app is the second phase development of Time Trails. Find out more about the first phase of the project from here and in the Grecian Voices blog and the previous Exeter Time Trails blog. 

Shortlisted for the 2013 Exeter Impact Awards for 'The George Smith regional partnership' award.

Principal Investigator: Dr Ian Cook (Geography)
Creative Economy Partner: Blind Ditch

REACT supported MoCC in organising a ‘Trade Justice Thinkering’ workshop at the University of Exeter in January 2013. A storify detailing the day as it unfolded is here. 

Principal Investigator: Dr Linda Hurcombe (Archaeology)
Creative Economy Partner: National Museum of Scotland
Award: £6,250 HEFCE HEIF Open Innovation Fund April 2012

This project was recently awarded a £100,000 Science and Heritage Development Grant by the AHRC.

Principal Investigators: Professor Christopher Knüsel (Archaeology) and Dr Stephany Leach
Creative Economy Partner: Imagemakers
Award: £50K (fEC) REACT Heritage Sandbox February 2012

Watch a video and read more about the project on the REACT Hub web page.

REACT Collaborative PhDs

PhD thesis title: Hardy's Correspondents
Period of study: September 2015 – September 2018

Supervisors: Professor Angelique Richardson, and Professor Tim Kendall, College of Humanities, University of Exeter and Dr Jon Murden, Director of the Dorset County Museum.

Mentor: Professor Gabriella Giannachi

Technical advisor: Gary Stringer, Digital Humanities, University of Exeter.

Research information:

The research is focused on Thomas Hardy and his correspondents, with particular emphasis on the role of letter-writing within the context of friendships with other historically significant individuals. The correspondence reveals Hardy’s involvement in a global network, engaged in social, intellectual and political debates from science and war to education and female emancipation.

The collection of over 4,000 letters forms part of Dorset County Museum's Thomas Hardy Memorial Collection, the largest Hardy collection in the world, recently selected for the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Programme register. While the letters from Hardy are in print (and have been available online since 2012), this collection has previously remained uncatalogued and unpublished. 

Working with Exeter’s digital humanities team, this project involves digitization of the correspondence to create a remotely accessible online database. Further developments will include the use of new mobile technology to interpret, entertain and educate, enhancing access to the newly catalogued archive and informing the museum's existing multi-disciplinary software development.

Supported by a collaborative doctoral award from REACT and Dorset County Museum, the work will also provide new contexts for reading Hardy and educational outreach initiatives will focus on encouraging students to engage with cultural heritage, using archives to enhance learning in schools and colleges. This is in conjunction with the learning group of the Thomas Hardy Steering Group (partners include Dorset County Museum, Exeter, The National Trust, Bath Spa University, Dorset County Council, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Thomas Hardy Society).


Dorset County Museum

PhD thesis title: The Gameful Museum: Towards Understanding the Impact of Gameful Design on Visitors’ Experiences in Museums
Period of study: September 2015 – September 2018
Primary Supervisor: Professor Gabriella Giannachi, Professor of Performance and New Media and Director of the Centre for Intermedia, Department of English, University of Exeter
Secondary Supervisor:

Rick Lawrence, Digital Media Officer, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

Research information:

My research focuses on how gameful design – that is, design inspired by game elements and design, applied to non-game contexts – and the resulting game-like experiences have the potential to transform how museum visitors engage with a museum’s physical space. This investigated is supported by a collaborative doctoral award from REACT and Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM). The goal is to develop a framework that can be adapted by museums to inform the creation of rich, interactive, and gameful experiences that engage their audiences in a playful way. This framework will then be tested at the RAMM as part of my investigation, with the creation of diverse gameful experiences, such as museum-hosted game jams, gameful trails, and mixed reality game experiences.

As part of this investigation, I will study different kinds of gameful experiences in museums, from the use of full-fledged videogames as support and educational tools, to gamified platforms, to exhibitions built from the ground up to be game-like, to hybrid reality gameful experiences.


RAMM Website

Video game principles used to enhance exhibits at Exeter museum

PhD thesis title: Geo-locating the spatial and architectural history of pre-modern cities
Period of study: June 2015- June 2018
Primary Supervisor: Professor Fabrizio Nevola, Chair in Art History and Visual Culture, University of Exeter
Secondary Supervisor: Professor Gabriella Giannachi, Professor of Performance and New Media and Director of the Centre for Intermedia, Department of English, University of Exeter
Research information:

Structured as a collaboration between the University of Exeter and the creative industry company specialising in geo-located audio tours (AppTrails) Calvium Ltd, my REACT funded research examines how digital approaches and locative media have unlocked the potential for site-specific narrative and history delivered in the urban realm in direct dialogue with extant sites and objects.

The research looks at significant and transitional moments enabled by innovative digital approaches developed over the last few decades applied to the exploration of narrative and history in the urban realm, while also reporting on current trends and future directions. The project combines embedded engagement with the practice of Calvium to facilitate reflection on these activities in relation to their application in contemporary culture and adoption by users among the general public.

Various case studies will be analysed, among which, but not limited to, existing case samples of AppTrails produced by Calvium, to investigate the approaches applied in the practical application of geo-location technologies to site-specific narrative and explore the theoretical frame that enables this process to be locative, embodied and kinetic.


Calvium Blog

PhD thesis title: Artworks Beyond the Gallery: Digital Mapping as a Tool for Engaging with Art
Period of study: February 2013 - February 2017
Supervisors: Professor Gabriella Giannachi, Professor of Performance and New Media and Director of the Centre for Intermedia, Department of English, University of Exeter and Dr Rebecca Sinker, Curator of Digital Learning, Tate
Research information:

The research looks at the digital applications that museums and galleries around the world are developing and employing to virtually bring visual art collections beyond the institutions' walls and closer to people's everyday life. In particular, the research focuses on those applications that use a digital map to virtually locate artworks in space, exploring the complex relation between art and place. Various case studies will be analysed, among which the Tate-Horizon application Art Maps, which relates artworks from the Tate collection to places around the world, inviting users to experience the environment they are in through its artistic representation or connections, and to share their knowledge, personal responses and interpretation. This work, supported by a collaborative doctoral award from REACT and Tate, is part of a project which recently won the award for 'Outstanding Impact in Arts and Culture'.


Tate website

Art Maps Project webpage

Art Maps Blog

PhD thesis title: Digital Interaction with Heritage
Period of study: September 2012 – August 2015
Primary supervisor: Professor Gabriella Giannachi, Professor in Performance and New Media, University of Exeter
Secondary supervisors: Rick Lawrence, Digital Media Officer, RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery)
Short description:

Working with the Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter and RAMM, my REACT funded research examines the nature of digital interaction with heritage in the museum sector. Significant emphasis is placed upon the changing nature of the museum agenda and methods of communicating the past, with particular reference to, and examinations of, the mobilisation of heritage materials.

While maintaining that material culture and the physical setting around us are the key elements at the core of historical engagement, this body of work inspects the symbiotic relationship between the impact of new media and digital technology, and the manner in which museum visitors engage with historical content.

The thesis argues that the mobilisation of heritage materials allows us to experience the traces and evidence of history that surrounds every day, not solely within the walls of the museum but more specifically in the wider sphere of our physical environment, and how this form of contextual and experiential learning provides significant cultural and educational value. The overarching concern of this study is to outline how current and proposed modes of mobile presentation and communication are impacting on our engagement with historical materials and journeys into the past, in order to outline a model of heritage interaction, which is relevant, engaging and sustainable within our contemporary and future society.


Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

RAMM: Exeter Time Trail

Time Trails Project Blog

Moor Stories Project Blog

PhD thesis title: FW Harvey and the First World War
Period of study: September 2012 - August 2015
Primary supervisor: Professor Tim Kendall, Head of English, University of Exeter
Secondary supervisors: Julie Courtenay, Head of Collections, Gloucestershire Archives; Dr Angelique Richardson, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Exeter
Short description:

This is a collaboration between the University of Exeter, the Gloucestershire Archives, and the FW Harvey Society and Estate. The project is centred on personal papers of poet FW Harvey, which were recently discovered by his family and placed on permanent loan at the Gloucestershire Archives to be preserved, catalogued and researched by University of Exeter REACT PhD student J. Grant Repshire.

FW Harvey was among the famous soldier poets of the First World War, who rose to fame while serving in the trenches. He is unique as the only poet to publish a collection while concurrently a prisoner of war. Little scholarly work has been done on his life due to the previous lack of archival research material. Thousands of pages of original material will now be available for research thanks to this project, relating not just to Harvey, but also to his contemporaries Ivor Gurney, Marion Scott, and Herbert Howells among others.

The first phase of the project, cataloguing and preservation of the papers, is nearing completion, and the papers will become available to the public at the Gloucestershire Archives after an official launch on 8 November 2013.

Already, these previously unstudied papers have revealed much exciting and formerly unknown information about Harvey's life and works, which will be presented in Repshire's dissertation. This is tentatively titled 'FW Harvey and the First World War', and is an exploration of Harvey's personal experiences and literary contributions during the war. The research seeks to establish Harvey's place within the canon of First World War poetry by providing a full documentation of Harvey's wartime experiences in conjunction with scholarly analysis of his concurrent development as a poet. Particular emphasis will be placed on his experience as a prisoner of war, as Harvey's life and works provides an excellent case study for this overlooked facet of the First World War experience.


Follow FW Harvey on Twitter @FWHarvey

Long lost Gloucestershire war poet's novel turned into a play (ITV West Country)

FW Harvey Society and Estate

Gloucestershire Archives


PhD thesis title: Connecting the Medieval to the Modern: Social Networks and Gaming in Late Medieval France and England
Period of study: October 2012 - October 2015
Primary supervisor: Dr Emma Cayley, Senior Lecturer in French and Head of Modern Languages, University of Exeter
Secondary supervisors: Dr Elliot Kendall, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Exeter and Michelle Penn at Antenna International 
Short description: A collaborative project exploring the social networks and literary games of the late medieval French Grands Rhétoriqueurs, which draws parallels with how we interact with social media today.

Antenna International website