Image: left to right from standing Alex Curry (PhD Candidate ILAS), Gibran Cruz-Martinez (ILAS), Kavyta Raghunandan, Eva Namusoke (both ICWS),Esther Lopez (ILAS), Julian Burger (HRC)
A successful collaboration last year, between academics from the School of Advanced Study and adult ESOL learners from the Cardinal Hume Centre, has led to the creation of an exciting project as part of Senate House Library’s ‘Metamorphosis’ exhibition and their season of activities to commemorate the life and work of William Shakespeare, who died 400 years ago this April. Dr Maria del Pilar Kaladeen, who is leading the project, tells us what to expect.
Between 11 and 27 May, six academics and three PhD candidates from across the School of Advanced Study (SAS) will take part in an ambitious project involving the delivery of a series of mini-lectures on Shakespeare and culminating in a ‘flipped’ learning event where ESOL (English to speakers of other languages) students take over the project to deliver their own presentations.
Working with six of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Othello, Timon of Athens, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest and Macbeth, academics will show their ‘bardability’ by relating an aspect of their research to one of the themes of their selected play. Over the course of three weeks, each of the academics will deliver a 15-minute lecture in which they will talk about their research within the context of their chosen play, this will be followed by questions from the students.
To give you an idea of how this will work, I will cite the example of two scholars involved. Dr Esther Lopez, Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS), will speak about her work on land rights in Bolivia linking her studies to the debates around land ownership presented in The Tempest. PhD candidate Tessa Morrison, from the Institute of Modern Languages Research, is currently writing a thesis on the work of exiled Argentinian women writers. She will be addressing the issue of borders and boundaries in Romeo and Juliet, and discussing how some recent interpretations of the play have chosen to emphasise this aspect of the text.
A two-hour class, uniquely designed around the relevant play and the issues raised by the lecturing academic, will follow the question and answer session. The lesson will be referenced to the national curriculum for adult ESOL learners and will include a range of exercises that will practice skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. The materials used in the lessons will be placed on the Senate House Library website so that they can be shared with ESOL providers in the UK and beyond.
The most exciting part of this project for me is going to be the final session where the learners take over the class to deliver presentations to academics on a writer whose work is important to them. Learners responded positively to this ‘flipped’ learning event when I went to the Cardinal Hume Centre to promote the forthcoming project, with many students immediately able to identify a writer whose work they would like to introduce to academics. We will be delighted to welcome back all of the students that took part in last year’s ESOL project as well as many new learners who have also signed-up for this event.
With two colleagues from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Dr Eva Namusoke and Dr Kavyta Raghunandan, I will be launching the project at Senate House on 11 May. The following day, the first lecturer, Dr Gibran Cruz-Martinez (ILAS), will come to the Cardinal Hume Centre with me to deliver his talk on poverty and the state as it relates to Timon of Athens. For the launch, we have planned a dynamic and kinesthetic lesson, which will present our plays and celebrate the international influence of Shakespeare by highlighting interpretations of his work from all over the world.
On completion of the project, I will report back to Talking Humanities with an article that includes excerpts from the students’ presentations and comments both from them and the participating academics.
Dr Maria del Pilar Kaladeen is an associate fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She is currently working on the publication of her PhD thesis. Prior to completing her doctorate, Dr Kaladeen a worked as an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) teacher in London and as a volunteer ESOL tutor at the Cardinal Hume Centre, a Westminster based charity that supports the homeless and badly housed by providing access to education, training and advice.