Community Engagement Grant funds Victorian Study Day

Three PhD students from the School of English, Communication and Philosophy have successfully bid for a grant from the Community Engagement Team to organise a Victorian Study Day for local sixth form college students. Laura Foster, Michael Goodman and Helen McKenzie, who are all writing their theses on aspects of Victorian literature and culture, intend to present their specialist research in a format which is relevant, accessible and engaging to a wider audience. Earlier this year, Laura and Helen gained related experience of translating their research visually, when they took part in SCOLAR’s annual Postgraduate Curators programme.

The day will begin with a visit to Special Collections and Archives, where the students will have an opportunity to handle and interact with original 19th century texts. Led by archivist Alison Harvey, the workshop will encourage the students to consider the materiality of print culture and how books were read and produced. The session will focus on texts that have visual impact, such as the Illustrated London News, the collected works of Tennyson, and Victorian children’s literature. This practical session aims to engage and excite students early in the day, and to introduce concepts that will be developed in the afternoon workshops.

Laura, Michael and Helen will each lead a workshop on their subject area, designed to challenge students’ assumptions about reading, texts, and culture, both in the nineteenth century and today. Much of the literature selected for discussion will be informed by the A-level set texts, and students will be encouraged to reinterpret these in light of how they were actually published and read in the 19th century. Workshops will be held in small groups of 10, introducing students to the seminar-style environment of university, and aim to build confidence in discussing ideas with their peers.

Laura, Michael and Helen will be contacting local schools to ask teachers to nominate students to attend the Study Day. To be held in October, sessions will take place in the Council Chambers of Cardiff University’s Main Building, with a visit to Special Collections and Archives.

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