“Any way of stimulating open and honest debate is helpful as I, for one, see the argument as part of your own process of understanding, allowing you to concede fixed early positions as a debate progresses”
A triangle of demands
As intermediaries, we have a responsibility to create the conditions for passage between cultures and stages of knowledge. In our role as teachers and curriculum makers we need to weigh up:
- The demands of the material: what we as scholars believe students need to know in the interests of knowledge and cultural memory (and without presupposing that all our students will go on to become scholars of the subject);
- The capacities and capabilities of our students: what, in terms of knowledge, skills, or aptitudes they would need in order to benefit from what we can offer; how they read; where they are now in their own educational narrative;
- The opportunities and constraints of available resources: the whole gamut – texts, libraries, the web, the timetable, the size of module groups, the available teaching spaces, the level of sympathetic support you might get from other colleagues.
Given both the overwhelming scale of the extant Victorian archive, and the characteristic length and tempo of texts, many contemporary students are likely to find themselves at sea in approaching the period. The era is in any case likely to feel a very long way off to people born after about 1980, despite Margaret Thatcher’s vaunted recourse to self-help and ‘Victorian values’. The question underlying these pages is how we can assist our students in developing their own confidence and curiosity while simultaneously doing justice to texts and histories.
- Other Victorian lit content
- Victorian lit case studies
- Victorian lit projects
- Victorian lit publications
- Enabling Undergraduate Research – In Search of ‘The Angel in the House’: Women and Domestic Culture in the Nineteenth Century
- Plot-casting: Using Student-Generated Audiobooks for Learning and Teaching
- Studying Literary Texts: The Learning Process
- Text.Play.Space : Creative Online Activities in English Studies
- Turning the Classroom into a Debate Hall: Arguing about Racism in Heart of Darkness