I thought it was about time for another update on how my Iris Murdoch and Book Groups project is going.   For those who don’t know about it, there’s a page here on my website explaining the background, and I’ve done a series of posts about how it’s all going, which you can find in the Iris Murdoch category.

I’m really pleased with progress so far.  29 groups have agreed to take part so far – mainly reading groups but also a couple of classes of students who are studying the book, with their tutors reporting back to me.  I’ve sent out 24 questionnaires so far and had 9 sets of responses back – several of the groups who still have questionnaires to answer have either read the book very recently or wanted to have the questionnaires in advance, so I’m confident I’ll get many more of them back before the end.  And I’ve had a little spate of groups wanting to join recently, as word continues to spread (people are reading the book up to January 2012 so do get in touch if you’d like to join in before then). Thanks to everyone who has told people about the project – including the Iris Murdoch Society itself!

I have to wait until all the questionnaires are in before I can really go through and pick out themes, etc. – but I have read every word of every one of them as they’ve come in, and they’re great – really detailed, with lots of interesting responses.  And I’ve been spending the waiting time learning how to “code up” responses to questionnaires that collect qualitative, rather than quantitative responses (or words rather than numbers, if you prefer).

My own reading group has come to the end of our chronological read of Iris Murdoch’s novels – a very bittersweet experience as we tackled “Jackson’s Dilemma”, which I certainly wasn’t looking forward to. But we managed it … and now we’ve all got to fill in the other half of my questionnaire and provide the material to finish off my case study! Thank you again to all the participants of that group for their input through the years of reading, and now, for their help with my case study.

So – part way through, still as enthusiastic about the books and the research project.  Oh, yes – and I’m going to re-read “The Bell” myself this summer, too …

Do get in touch if you’d like to take part in the project – pop a comment to this post including your email address in the contact information (this won’t show to anyone else) and I’ll drop you a line with more details.