BAME and Gender History in Our Department

Activism and protest has led news headlines for years. The number of protests around the world, questioning human rights and political issues, particularly in the United States, has risen increasingly over the last. This year in Washington D.C, there has been a mass movement led by students called March for Our Lives. This protest called for greater gun control in the US following 8 school shootings that have occurred since the beginning of the year.  The Women’s March took place in late January 2017; this protest saw involvement of nearly 1 million people within the US and over 4 million people globally. They marched for women’s rights being recognized as human rights, as well as LGBTQ rights, racial equality, worker’s rights, and many other issues faced by US and international citizens. Another prominent global movement which surfaced in 2013 is the Black Lives Matter campaign. This member-based organisation is fighting to end the violence and racism faced by Black communities. These are all current acts of protest but what about the protests and activism the world has seen throughout history?

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March for Our Lives, Washington, 2018

For the new academic year our History department has introduced two new modules. One focuses on activism within Britain and the other looks at how colonised peoples resisted empire around the world. Both modules interpret gender history and BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) history uniquely.

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Queen Anna Nzinga

 

HR104-4-SP: Resisting Empire is a first year, spring term module. The module will focus on the definition of resistance and how we think about it and will put non-Europeans at the centre. Events looked at will range from the Haitian Revolution, 1791 to 1804, the succession and power of Angolan Queen Anna Nzinga, 1557, the Pueblo Revolt of Mexico, 1680, the Boxer Rebellion of China, 1899-1901, as well as other movements that took place in Kenya and Cuba. Unlike current modules taught within the department, HR104 looks at other empires, like the Portuguese and Dutch, in addition to the British Empire. The module is aimed at providing students with broader exposure to lesser known events and movements, alongside thinking about empire from the view of the colonized, rather than the colonizers.

 

HR225-5-AU: Cultures of Activism: Protest in Britain, 1958-2003 is available for second-year students, in the Autumn term. Considering current protests, which I mentioned before, this module has been designed to look at how people within Britain have been involved in activism within the twentieth century. The definition of ‘activism’ is highlighted, as well as examining the effects of protest on society. Some examples of British protest looked at are the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958, the Black Power movement, feminist movements, health activism, and environmentalism. The module aims to allow students to develop an understanding of what initiated protest in the late 1900s, how these protests have changed over time, and most importantly to be able to recognize how current protest and activism draws on the history of activism.

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Black People’s Day of Action, 1981

 

 

 

 


For more information contact the History Department or visit the module directory.

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Is a 10,000-word Dissertation My Only Option?

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Not anymore! This year our final year History students were able to approach their History Research Project in a creative way. As the History Research Project makes up one-eighth of your overall mark, it’s really good to have greater control over how you would like to present your research. Researching a topic of your own interest and displaying it in a way that you feel best illustrates your work means you can actually enjoy writing your most significant piece of independent work here at Essex.

What is the Public History Output Project?

Instead of a 10,000 word dissertation, the Public History Output Project allows you to produce a 5,000- 6,000 -word report and a public history output. This side of your project must be the equivalent of 5,000-words. The report should consist of an introduction of your area of research, the main response to your research question, and a review on your public output choice; this would include why you have chosen the style it is presented in, how effective this style is at educating the public on your chosen topic, and why it is appropriate for your topic. Your public output can be anything that displays your work sufficiently and can reach an audience, whether that is a podcast, a short film, museum exhibition board, a teaching pack for schools; a web page… the list is endless. Students are advised to check with their supervisors that the public output piece of their project is substantial enough to equivalent to 5,000-words.

I spoke to two students that completed the Public History Output Project option this year. Jesse and Rowena both produced a 5,000-word essay, alongside a podcast. Here are their interviews:


Jesse Harrison-Lowe

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“Be creative! I think I enjoyed my RP more thanks to the creative side of it.”

What was your dissertation topic or question?

My focus was on the American interest of expansion into Cuba throughout the mid-1800s.

What format did you use for you RP? Blog? Podcast? Video?

Podcast! With a 5,000-word write up.

Why did you use that format?

I picked a podcast because I listen to loads myself and felt that I had a grasp on what made a good podcast. I prefer talking to writing as well, which made it an even more interesting option.

If you could do it again what would you change about your project?

I would probably have put more emphasis on making my research fit the podcast in an attempt to create a more streamlined output.

Do you have any advice?

Be creative! I think I enjoyed my RP more thanks to the creative side of it.


Rowena Field-Carter

What was your dissertation topic or question?

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“Having enthusiasm for something you have to engage with over a long period of time is beneficial.”

Forward from the Past: A Historical Exploration of Sex Education in Britain from 1985-2008 and the Practical Uses of Public History

What format did you use for you RP? Blog? Podcast? Video?

5000-word essay and podcast

Why did you use that format?

I wanted to create a podcast in order to create a more discussion based format for the audience. As the topic relates to everyone that has grown up and been through the UK education system, it made sense to me to make the public history element of my RP as accessible, understandable and relatable as possible in an easy format.

Also people interpret information they read differently to how they read it; as a public history source it may be more effective if it has a longer lasting impression on the audience.

If you could do it again what would you change about your project?

The scope of the topic I chose to do was very broad, so to streamline in on one particular facet would be what I’d change.

Do you have any advice?

Make sure whatever you choose to do you is committed to the topic; having enthusiasm for something you have to engage with over a long period of time is beneficial. Also, be creative with your idea. It’s more likely to allow your project to stand out, and as long as it is well designed the possibilities are huge.


If you have any further questions please contact:

Alix Green or Alison Rowlands 

 

Why I Came to The University of Essex!

Alfie Holt, History student,  shares why he chose to come to Essex.

 

” …Essex is one of only five Universities in the UK who have funded programmes for seven –a –side Rugby”

 

”Originally, I moved to Louisiana, U.S.A on a four year scholarship to play rugby at Louisiana State University in Alexandria. That is where I began my journey as a History student. However, after a year I realised it wasn’t for me. Prior to moving, I had a conditional offer to study at the University of Essex and was contacted by Ben Jones regarding the rugby program.

As my first year came to an end in the States, I emailed Ben asking if I could join the program the following year.

Essex is one of only five Universities in the UK who have funded programmes for seven–a–side Rugby, I knew Essex was an unquestionable choice.

 

There is a wide variety of modules to choose from and for myself, who has a particular interest in American History, I felt confident in picking and studying the modules I had selected .

 

” I felt Essex suited me perfectly”

 

As I had already begun my History degree, and wished to pursue this further, I had to redo my first year as the module credits I completed in the States were insufficient to enter into the second year. However, the University, especially the History department gave me ample help by providing course pack documents, and additional assistance with personal tutors.

As well as this, the campus facilities was a major contribution to my choice. These included amenities such as the Albert Sloman Library, the 24hr newly-built Silberrad Student Centre and the vast fields  for sports like Rugby.

With both the sports and researchfacilities catering to my studies and passion for rugby, I felt this University suited me perfectly.

 

One of the personal factors which also swayed my decision was that I only live 40 minutes from the Colchester campus so it gave me the benefit of both being able to live independently, but the choice to travel to and from home as I pleased. It was almost as if, Essex knew what I wanted and catered to it. I’m happy now ”

 

–  Alfie Holt

 

Top tips for new students

Welcome to the Department of History at Essex! We hope you enjoy welcome week, and that you’re excited about joining the vibrant community here. We know from personal experience that it can be daunting embarking on a new stage in life, so here are our top tips for new undergraduates to help you settle in and make the most of your time here right from the start.

  1. Don’t worry if everything seems confusing at first

It’s widely acknowledged that moving is one of the most stressful events in life. Even if you haven’t moved house, you’re still moving from one way of life to another – from college, school, or a previous career to university. There’s a lot of practical things to do, from getting a library card to finding your way to lecture theatres, and it’s not surprising if you feel overwhelmed at first. You will survive! In only a few weeks’ time, the building blocks of your new life will be in place. There will be new challenges in the years ahead – after all, that is the point of university – but the bewilderment of your first few days will soon be gone.

  1. Get organised straight away

Even if you have never owned one before, buy an academic diary. Write in the times, topics and locations of your lectures and seminars, as well as any welcome events, and when you receive your essay deadlines, put those in too. It’s much better to do this in a physical diary than on a calendar on your phone. As the semester goes on, you will quickly realise that it really helps when you can see at a glance what’s happening over the week ahead. Writing in this information also has a great psychological benefit in making you feel organised – which is half of the battle.

  1. Be prepared for new learning experiences

Most academic modules are taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. Different tutors approach lectures and seminars differently, but most often lectures provide a broad overview of a topic, while seminars provide an opportunity to discuss a particular topic in more depth. Both formats are typically more open-ended than the kind of teaching you were accustomed to at college or school. It might take some time to get used to this style of teaching, and to ensure that you are preparing and taking notes in the most effective way. There are lots of study guides that can help, and it is definitely worth reading at least one.

  1. Be open-minded

By the time most students arrive at university, they have usually spent at least seven years formally studying History. Although this is a long time, History is an enormous topic – it covers the entire human past, from the dawn of time to the present, in every region of the globe. No matter how much you learn, you will never get to grips with all of it – but what a great challenge it is to try! When selecting modules, it can be tempting to fall back on the topics that you have studied before and that you know will interest you. There is a place in any History degree for deepening your knowledge, but you should also try to extend it – take a risk on topics and modules that you have not encountered before, and that you might not have another chance to study.

  1. Ask questions, lots and often

Historians, whether undergraduates or professors, need to ask questions all the time – who, what, when, where, and, perhaps most importantly, why? Of course, part of what we do as historians is try to find answers to those questions – but most often, those attempts at answers just generate more questions. Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions, and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t have all the answers. The really good historical work, whether that’s a 2,000 word essay or a 600-page scholarly monograph, won’t have all the answers, but it will ask the right questions. If your History degree at Essex teaches you anything, it should be that curiosity is one of the best attributes you can take through life, because it will always reward you – often in quite unexpected ways.

 

Dr Tracey Loughran is a historian of twentieth-century Britain. She is the editor of A Practical Guide to Studying History: Skills and Approaches (Bloomsbury, 2017), a book aimed at helping students make the transition to degree-level study. You can read an extract from it here.

You asked, we answered

If you didn’t manage to make it to our Open Day on Saturday, never fear! Our academics have put together a list of some of the most frequently asked questions by students, along with the answers.

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How do joint programmes work in practice?

Our joint programmes are very popular because they offer students a chance to study two different subjects in-depth. Two Departments coordinate with each other to put together a programme tailored for students with particular interests in their areas of study. In practice, this means that students spend about half their time in one department and half in another.

How does Study Abroad work in practice? (How do you choose the institution, do the marks count toward degree, fees, etc).

All our undergraduate students have a fantastic opportunity to study abroad, for either a term or a year. We have exchanges with about 150 institutions all over the world from Canada and the United States to East Asia, Europe to Australia and New Zealand. For students beginning their studies in 2018/19, fees for the year abroad are 15 % of the standard tuition fees. These students take a four-year degree with their third year spent at a university in another country. They go through an application process in their second year with help from the Study Abroad Office.

How many contact hours will I get with lecturers?

Most of our students spend about 8-10 hours a week in the classroom, but they also spend much of their week reading and preparing for classes. This can be on their own or in groups – perhaps in one of the many informal learning spaces we have at the University or off campus. Students are also encouraged to see their tutors on a regular basis in their Academic Support Hours, two hour-long slots are held every week when students can seek guidance and feedback on work and any other matters they want to discuss.

How much teaching is by GTAs?

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) teach some seminars, mainly at First Year level. The vast majority of our teaching, however, is done by full-time academic staff. All of our staff – from lecturers to professors – are engaged in lecture and seminar teaching at all levels, from first to final year.

What are the most common graduate job destinations?

Essex History graduates go into a wide variety of different careers in the public and private sectors. These include careers in the Civil Service, in museums and archives, in journalism and human resources management. Of course, some of graduates also go into teaching and some continue with their studies, going on to do graduate work in a variety of fields. Further information about what some of our graduates have gone on to do can be found here.

If there’s another question not listed which you’d like answering, feel free to email us at history@essex.ac.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

You can also check when our next Open Day is on our website.

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History Department Tips

History, Blackboard, Chalk, Chalkboard, Teacher, School

Our history department has a few hidden gems that can help make your life a lot easier, and your time at Essex even better.  So instead of letting you slowly discover them over a few years (it took me two to find the department library) here they are:

  1. The History Department library

I know it looks small but don’t judge a book by its cover, this place is a Tardis of useful materials for your modules. The chances are that for any reading you have to do, for any history course, there will be a copy of it filed under the course title. You don’t even have to spend ages sorting through material, our wonderful volunteer librarians will help you find what you’re looking for.

  1. The History common room

If you’ve been to the History Department you may have noticed the first room on your left as you walk in, with a coffee machine and some chairs and tables, that’s it! And if you’re new and a little shy there’s no need to avoid it if there’s people already there, they’re actually very friendly. It’s a good place to go if you’d like to do some work, either alone or with some friends, or to just hang around for a bit.

  1. Department Office

I’m about to save you some time, check the opening hours before you walk all the way to campus to hand something in, only to realise its closed (While we’re on topic the same goes for the campus post office and post room). But the office is only closed for an hour for lunch (between 1-2pm) and anyone there will be more than happy to help you with any problems or questions you may have about your course.