This week’s blog comes from Dr Kristin Lindfield-Ott, Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Literature and BA (Hons) History and Literature at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
This semester marks the start of a more formal engagement with British Identities for me: I’ll be teaching a third-year module on our Literature degree called ‘Union and Discord 1707-1815’. It is a new module, and I’m putting the finishing touches on our Blackboard space just now. Our semester begins on the 7th of September, so there is just over a week to go. It has been a while since we proposed the course, and this past week I have been thinking much about sources, assessments, and activities for our students (prompted by the need to finish our Blackboard space).
We’re a dispersed university. We cover a huge geographical area, with students ranging from Shetland to Perth, from Lewis to Moray, and everywhere in between:
This affects the way we teach: our Humanities modules are taught through blended learning – a mixture of online materials and weekly video-conference seminars. Over the past year I have been experimenting with the design of the online materials, and I’ve settled on a combination of readings and activities. The idea is that students explore the materials and undertake the readings and activities in preparation for the discussion-based seminar.
This is the summary of the module:
In this research-led interdisciplinary module you will examine the period 1707-1815 in detail. The focus of this module is on literary and artistic responses to political events and national identity, and as well as fictional works you will study non-fiction (essays, speeches, philosophy, history) and works of art. As part of the module you will engage with the Enlightenment and Romanticism, as well as the revolutions in America and France. You will explore the Union of England and Scotland of 1707 (which led to the formation of the United Kingdom), the Jacobite Uprisings, the American and French Revolutions and the Napoleonic Wars, and analyse how poets, novelists and dramatists responded to the changing political landscape. You’ll also be thinking about notions of taste and gender in the period, and our overarching theme is ‘British identity’.
Throughout this module you will combine theory with practice, modern criticism with eighteenth-century texts, and literary works with writings from other genres. You will gain detailed knowledge of a fascinating and varied period of British history, and explore how British identity was forged in the face of threats at home and abroad.
I’ve been thinking hard about appropriate sources and activities for this module. It’s part of BA (Hons) Literature, so the sources need to be literary, but I also want the students to explore visual sources, non-fiction material, and songs. These are the topics we are going to be exploring week by week:
And here is an indication of the kind of readings and activities the students will be undertaking:
These activities are tied in to the assessments on the module: the first is a traditional academic essay, and students choose from a range of questions. The second one, however, is a project essay, and students are going to be exploring the idea of British Identity in the Eighteenth Century (1707-1815). They are required to use at least two literary primary sources, and two further primary sources from the period – but those could be visual, or non-fiction (or more literature!).
I am rather excited about this module, and I really hope our students will enjoy it. While there is no formal link between the module and our Hub for the Study of British Identities (and indeed this blog), my hope is that students will become interested in British Identities and may want to blog, tweet or otherwise engage with the hub.
I’d be keen to hear from others who are going to be teaching courses on British Identity this coming semester. What sort of things do you teach? What do you get your students to do? How do you engage them with the content?