I attended a really excellent HEA event at the University of Roehampton last week, Neo-classicism in the HE classroom, on the reception of classical culture in eighteenth century England.

Dr Alannah Tomkins, of Keele University, ran a really useful workshop on how we can use the search functions of databases such as Gale’s 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection to teach (and research!) the presence of classical motifs and topics in newspapers of the early modern period. I’m going to be using this and similar databases to get students to explore references to Gothic themes in a new third year module from September.

I gave a very brief presentation on Making Digital History, which received some really useful feedback on how we can use technology to encourage students to engage actively with  our topics. It’s not difficult to see how the inquiries that Alannah described could be used by students to as the basis for their creating digital objects that present their findings to others.

Finally, although we talked about and played around with technology, an important outcome of the day for me was that a powerful incentive to student learning – and to staff creativity in thinking about teaching and research – is getting out and about in the built environment. The campus at Roehampton, which is littered with Neo-Classical buildings, is perfect for this; but other campuses, and the cities in which they sit are equally useful as teaching and learning resources. Tying the digital and the concrete together is a challenge but I think one from which our students can learn a great deal (e.g. through taking photos, recording their thoughts and then creating digital artifacts or exhibitions that present their work to others).

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