Victorian Outreach at MUSA

MUSA 1Students on Dr Aileen Fyfe’s special subject (MO4930: Technologies of the Victorians) took their work to a public audience as part of the Fife Science Festival. The ‘Science Snapshot’ event was organised by MUSA on Friday March 14. All the exhibits were linked to photography or visualisation techniques. Alongside displays of virtual reality reconstructions of St Andrews cathedral, and a showing of early (1890s) film footage, the students demonstrated and explained a Victorian camera and magic lantern.

The magic lantern (above) was a great success, and the younger visitors particularly loved being able to draw their own picture (on acetate) and then have it displayed on the big screen. They also enjoyed spotting everyday objects in Victorian photographs, and a few of them were persuaded to dress up for their very own ‘Victorian’ photograph! (Below).

This project was one of the assessed pieces of work for the module, and was funded under the Enhancement Themes for enhancing students’ transferable skills.  The students had to work in groups to research their artefact, to prepare visual material and interactive activities, and to talk to visitors (young and old!) on the evening itself. They learned a lot about teamwork, and about communicating history to public audiences. Reflecting on the event afterwards, the students commented:

‘I gained useful insight into the reality of demonstrating history for public consumption, as well as developing a number of interchangeable skills’

MUSA 2‘I learned a lot about working with others throughout this project…  This exercise highlighted to me that I need to be open to different ways of working’

‘The simple technical skills I gained from poster design and other aspects of the project have already proved useful in job interviews, and learning to structure historical research for a popular audience was also a valuable exercise. I think the outreach project was a thoroughly modern assignment, and allowed those like myself who are not going on to further academic study to see the relevance of historical scholarship in popular contexts.’

The event also impressed representatives of Fife Science Festival, who have asked if the class would like to run it again at the Dundee Science Festival in November. Unfortunately, they’ll all have graduated by then!

About standrewshistory
With over forty full time members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from S cotland to Byzantium and the Americas to the Middle East and South Asia.Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching and tutorials allowing for in depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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