This week’s blog posts and related questions were suggested (and partly co-written!) by another member of our Warwick History department, Pierre Botcherby. Pierre is currently completing a PhD with the title of 'Memory, Resistance, and Regeneration: A Merseyside Town in the Age of De-industrialisation, St. Helens 1968-2018'. Pierre's research concerns ordinary people's memories of the period commonly referred to as de-industrialisation, and makes use of oral history - exploring the links between people's memories of the time period and responses/resistance to de-industrialisation.
Since 2018, Pierre has also been the Administrative Assistant for the Warwick Oral History Network. The OHN runs regular seminars, provides assistance to various community oral history projects, and hosts an Oral History Interest Group for researchers at the university wishing to share knowledge/experiences of using oral history.
Pierre has also been involved with the 'Then & Now' project at Warwick, which is what this week's readings and questions are about!
'Then & Now' project website: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/applyingtostudy/currentstudents/thenandnow/
Please read the above blog posts/websites, and then answer the following questions:
- This was an inter-disciplinary project, which relied on effective teamwork between students from different degree courses and years of study, and between students and academic staff. What do you think are the pros and cons of this collaborative approach? What benefits do you think it brought to this project? Why is it important that different academic disciplines work together?
- The Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown began mid-way through this project, so the students had to adapt to remote working. What kind of challenges do you think this posed for the completion of the project? What kind of strategies could be adopted to overcome these challenges?
- Almost all historians use archives in their research. The students working on this project were using materials from the Modern Records Centre and the university’s Student Union archives. Due to the lockdown, they were no longer able to access the archives in person so they had to rely on archive materials available online. At Warwick, the impact of the Internet on history and historians is a topic we discuss during our first year core module, 'Making of the Modern World'. What do you think are the pros and cons of the Internet for historians? Do you think online learning and online archives/research could ever replace face-to-face teaching and physical archives?
- A big part of this project was interviewing people, both former students about their experiences of being at Warwick and current staff/students about their experiences of lockdown. This is called oral history. What do you think are the pros and cons of oral history as a research technique? What benefits do you think interviews brought to this project?
- In displaying the project’s findings as an online exhibition, this project was an example of public engagement, an increasingly important concern for universities. Why do you think it is important for research to be available publicly and accessibly? What are the benefits of speaking to a wider audience?
- Imagine organising your own project like this one: What would it be about? How would you find the best information and sources? How would you manage the project?
- Would you be interested in doing such projects at university and why?
Remember: academic journal articles can be difficult and complicated pieces of writing, It may take some time to read through and don’t be surprised if you need to have a few goes at it. This is normal!
To help you, use the list of questions to guide your thinking as you read the article. You should be thinking about what has been written, to assess for yourself whether it makes sense, whether it is backed up with supporting evidence, and whether you agree with it.