Showing posts from February, 2013

more Manchester modernism

Following up to my post the other day about the Manchester Modernist society - the Manchester Centre for Regional History at MMU tweeted today about two more useful sites for Manchester modernism:

- The John Rylands Library (University of Manchester) digitised documents and webpages about mapping Manchester, especially the 1945 Manchester Plan.
I first read about the 1945 Manchester plan in a huge blue book on the oversize shelves of the local studies in the central library. It proved a fascinating diversion when I was getting tired during my archive and newspaper research. The proposal to knock down the Victorian town hall is often quoted as the most striking feature of the plan, but what also struck me was the desire for a long European-style boulevard running through Manchester.

- pages about the Hulme crescents.

Metroland and modernism

I'm a fan of the Manchester Modernist Society and their magazine.

They recently tweeted a link to Modernism in Metroland, which is a great website detailing the modernist buildings along the Metropolitan railway. I especially like the post-war houses, with their stark white minimalism, bold but because of their size, still unassuming and in keeping with the brick vernacular (though this was disputed at the time).

Modernism in Metroland struck a particular chord with me because I've just led a book group with our postgraduate history students, focusing on Betjeman's Metroland. (I picked it merely for the reason that it was on TV recently, but it fits in with wider reading and planning I've been doing in relation to the history of new towns and slum clearance).

Diamond Geezer's uniformly excellent blog and resource about London districts and geographies visited all the stops and locations for metroland back in 2006, and again more recently. See also his flickr colle…

useful local history websites: Manchester

These are some of the most useful websites about Manchester for more 'notes and queries' type history information:

Pubs of Manchester - an excellent labour of love listing almost every pub that ever existed in Manchester, with maps and current locations[see also a less full equivalent for Preston pubs]A Manchester View - old photos and information on old Manchester, especially lost buildingsHistory ME - magazine of locally-written local history articles, focused on ManchesterManchester Local Studies image collection Manchester Archives flickr collection - for example, their volume of early 19thC broadsidesJohn Rylands Library image collection I'm also quite impressed by the Band on the Wall's local history section on their website.

Spinning the Web has some good digitised sources, for example extracts from Edwin Butterworth's extensive annals of Oldham. The images of the beautifully written originals contrast greatly with (and are a great improvement upon) the grai…

workshop activities that work: part ii

I've had good responses to my self-reflection on workshopping, so I thought I'd share another workshop activity that has worked well for me. As we know, teaching is often a case of trial and error, and more often than not, our best laid plans don't work out, fail to engage the students, confuse students, etc. However, this activity has worked every time I've tried it.

Students often have trouble identifying historiographical debates, and also in choosing relevant books for their topics. Also, some students often approach the task of reading a book by starting at the very beginning, and reading it page to page, cover to cover, without actually reading for gist or getting a broad idea about what the book is generally about. The index and contents page are often neglected. A whole reading list therefore causes anxiety.

This exercise aims to teach students to 'speed read' historiography. It's a case of pointing out the obvious, but …

Workshopping: reflections on 'flipping' my seminars

My colleagues and I have, over the past couple of years, been replacing the traditional 1 hour lecture- 1 hour seminar format with a 'workshop' of 2 or 3 hours. Of course, many of us have been teaching practical skills and 'interactively' for years, if not our entire careers, but we have come to the conclusion that we have to spell it out for our students more explicitly, both through the timing of the sessions and the activities in them.

We're shifting from seminars to workshops because, among other reasons:
demand for increased student contact time with staff is a feature of questions at open days, the NSS, and the media;due to budget constraints and other factors, seminar group sizes are getting largerstudents unfortunately do not always prepare enough reading before the seminars to make discussion among them useful or continuous. No3 results from several reasons, including:
a) the structure of their degree (at UH, students study 4 modules per semester), mean…