Literature And Social Change: Building A Reading Laboratory To Combat Transphobia And Xenophobia (LIT-LAB)

General Overview

Can literature change the world? While evidence on the ability of literature to drive real changes in individual attitudes is limited, the LIT-LAB project explores literature’s potential to reduce prejudices towards groups typically stigmatised in European societies. This includes groups at high risk of discrimination and exclusion, such as trans and racialised people.

Purpose and Significance

The primary goal of LIT-LAB is to measure and evaluate literature's ability to reduce prejudiced attitudes toward stigmatised groups. The project team aims to determine which approaches, plots, discourses, genres, and character constructions can foster empathy and promote a more open vision of these groups’ realities. To achieve this, the project team will first analyse books focused on our groups of interest to characterise the publications based on these parameters. Then, we will measure the pre-reading and post-reading attitudes of several students to estimate the impact of different literary works.

Implementation Method and Timeline

The project will begin by collecting texts written about or focused on the target minorities and building a database that analyses various aspects of these works. The project team will then establish reading laboratories at the participating universities. Volunteer students from these universities will participate in book-club-style sessions every 15 days over six months. Each session will be guided by a researcher and will involve group discussions on fundamental aspects of the texts.

Expected Outcomes

  1. Creation of a database with literary works in different languages and genres starring characters from transgender and migrant communities. 
  2. Development of criteria for analysing texts based on elements such as plot type, character-environment relationships, storylines, character construction, genre, author profile, and themes. These criteria will be applied to the works in the database using a double-blind peer review system.
  3. Development of questionnaires to measure attitudes, addressing the key question of the project: Did the books bring about any change after being read? What kind of change did they promote?
  4. Publication of two open-access academic papers disseminating the project’s results.
  5. Organisation of a two-day seminar to present the project’s main findings.


Maravillas Moreno Amor, University of Murcia