University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
National Endowment for the Humanities

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NEH Seminar - Brief Prospectus

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2012 NEH SEMINAR FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS
HISTORICAL INTERPRETATIONS OF THE INDUSTRIAL
REVOLUTION IN BRITAIN
at the Institute for Historical Research, London, and the University of Nottingham
June 24 to July 27, 2012
Gerard M. Koot, History Department, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
http://www1.umassd.edu/ir/

This five-week Summer Seminar for School Teachers, sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the National Endowment for the Humanities, will meet for one week in London and four weeks in Nottingham.  If you have an interest in the history, literature, art, politics, economics, science or technology of Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as how subsequent generations have interpreted the experience of the world’s first industrial revolution, I hope you will consider applying to join the sixteen teachers from around the country who will study and visit historical sites during July of 2012 in England.

Seminar Topic

The purpose of this seminar is to develop a critical appreciation for the experience of industrialization in Britain, the historiography of the subject, and the lasting influence these interpretations have had on cultural values.  We will study contemporary accounts and seminal historical interpretations.  We will also visit some of the places that experienced the first industrial revolution.  The seminar will allow participants to explore an important subject in some depth, to appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of humanistic studies, to explore connections between the texts and material culture, and to do so in an atmosphere conducive to collegiality, study and reflection.  I hope to attract participants with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, including those interested in history, art history, philosophy, religion, literature, economics, political science, geography and the history of science.

Seminar Structure and Content

Our seminar will be organized to foster a collegial intellectual atmosphere that will emphasize the raising of broad and significant questions.  The seminar will meet three times per week from 9:00 to 12:00 AM. There will also be nine full days of guided historical site and museum visits in London, the Midlands and in the North of England. The seminar is not a lecture course. Meetings will be devoted to a wide-ranging discussion of the issues raised by the readings and site visits.

The British Industrial Revolution remains one of the world’s most important historical events and each generation has brought its own perspective to its interpretation.  It is a required topic in most secondary state curriculum frameworks.  We will study major interpretations chronologically in order to better understand its historical reality and how the experience of British industrialization continues to influence Western culture, politics and even its moral values. We will begin by studying contemporary descriptions and interpretations of industrialization, romantic poetry and painting of the period, including Charles Dickens’ novel, Hard Times. We will then discuss classic historical interpretations of the Industrial Revolution by John and Barbara Hammond, Thomas Ashton, and E. J. Hobsbawm. Turning to recent interpretations, we will study work by Kenneth Morgan, Katrina Honeyman, and Robert C. Allen.

Visiting the remaining material culture of industrialization will bring our texts alive. We will make six full-day field trips, and one three-day trip to the Northeast by chartered coach, to visit some of the most important archeological, historical and museum sites of industrialization in England. Among the places we will visit are important sites and museums in London, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle; Iron Bridge Gorge; early textile factory museums and model factory villages in Derbyshire and Cheshire; the National Coalmining Museum in West Yorkshire; the National Railway Museum in York; and an historical lead mine near Durham.

While the focus of the seminar will be on the required reading and interpreting the site visits, there will be ample collateral reading available at the Institute for Historical Research library and the library at the University of Nottingham. Since writing is an important part of learning, each participant will keep a journal and write an interpretive essay. Drafts of essays will be discussed in the cooperative learning groups and participants will present their findings to the seminar during the last few meetings. Completed essays and papers will be published on the seminar website.

Accommodations

For the first week of the seminar, from the late afternoon of June 24 to the morning of July 1 our accommodations will be in single occupancy study-bedrooms in University of London housing, Schafer House, just northwest of Bloomsbury in central London.  From July 1 to July 27 we will stay in single occupancy study-bedrooms at Rutland Hall on the University of Nottingham campus. For our visit to the Northeast, we will stay in Durham University housing.

NEH Stipend and Costs

NEH provides a $3900 stipend for participants in the seminar. The total cost of accommodations, including most weekday meals in Nottingham and Durham, will be about $3100 at October 2011 exchange rates. In addition, NEH will fund travel costs for our site visits.  Your personal travel, including transportation to Europe and travel between London and Nottingham, will be your responsibility. You will receive a check in June for the balance of your stipend, about $800 at October 2011 exchange rates, to help defray a portion of your additional expenses.

Applications

I have a good deal of experience working with teachers in previous NEH Seminars. Indeed, these seminars have been the most satisfying educational experience of my career. If you share my enthusiasm for this opportunity, I hope you will consider applying to the seminar. 

The application deadline is March 1, 2012. For an application and a much more detailed explanation of the seminar, go to: http://www1.umassd.edu/ir/nehseminar/. For a hard copy, contact Sue Foley, sfoley@umassd.edu or call 508-999-8301. For further information, write Gerard Koot gkoot@umassd.edu or call 508 994-3145.