At a time when identity issues have an increasing preponderance in literature and when digitization gains strength, Manaíra Aires Athayde wants to see if the authors and literary periods most solicited are changing.

The world is enduring a profound change and this change is also reflected in literature. In an increasingly digital world where identity issues are at the heart of the debate, how will the search in the literary world adjust?

Manaíra Aires Athayde studied in Portugal, more specifically at Porto University, where she graduated in Communication Sciences, and at the University of Coimbra, where she completed her PhD in Literature Materialities.

She is currently a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University in California, where she is developing the project“The Literature-Archive in the 21st Century”. It is this project that brings her to Portugal, where, with the support of FLAD and the National Library, she is studying the literary estates deposited in the contemporary Portuguese culture archive of the National Library of Portugal.

“My goal is to try to understand what were the main literary estates most requested in the last 10 years at the National Library of Portugal and how this reveals new paths for literary criticism in the last decade. What were the most solicited authors, what was most requested, the most sought after literary periods, how literary estates are being looked for by literary criticism, and how this reflects, for example, our current moment where literature is very focused on identity issues.” – Manaíra Aires Athayde.

To understand these changes, the Visiting Scholar of Stanford is analyzing the records of the accesses made in the last 10 years to the estates of all authors and of all time periods, deposited at the National Library of Portugal, a very significant amount of data.

The researcher puts several hypotheses on the table, from a change from the classics to more recent authors, and a possible change in the academic curriculum for these authors, with more current issues, namely identity.

“As a hypothesis, I suggest that there is a change in the search for authors, which seems to me that there was a greater association of the idea of literary estates at the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century, authors of the first decades of the last century. And it seems to me that there is now a greater trend of searching for estates from more recent authors. But this is a reading hypothesis, I came here to confirm certain tendencies.” – Manaíra Aires Athayde.

Another important part of her research is understanding how the digitalization of these estates has altered its query. Has the demand increased? In the end, Manaíra Aires Athayde promises to tell us her conclusions. But there is still a lot of work to do.

Good work, Manaíra!