Week 15-16 round up

February 12, 2010

In these weeks I covered the experiential side of service in the armed forces and moved onto a new section of the course, on Britain’s place in a world war, with a lecture on Britain and America.

It was the first time I’ve given the armed forces experience lecture, and whilst it was very far from perfect and not helped by some av problems, I would definitely keep it and refine it for the future. I tried to cover several aspects – the large number of Britons in the armed forces by the war’s end, the multiple different sorts of service in which they might be engaged, including large numbers not in front line combat roles, and the experience of serving, both in terms of how people reacted to incorporation in the armed forces and the experience of combat. I was very pleased that several students said that it made sense of the primary documents in a new way, and I really enjoyed the seminars that followed, even though the level of student preparation was relatively low, thanks in part perhaps to the primary documents being too long to encourage students to read all of them. In future, I would set up this seminar more didactically by emphasising questions about how historians can write the history of war and combat.

For the Americans lecture I abandoned all attempts at flashy av and went back to a tactic I’ve employed previously, of giving students a break in the middle for discussion. I felt this went well. Although inevitably in terms of content I had to pick and choose, I was satisfied that I managed to cover both the shift in US-UK power and the experience of the ‘American occupation’ on the home front – and this raised some useful points for seminar discussion. I perhaps missed out or underplayed the degree to which the manner of US entry into the war shaped the direction of subsequent relations. I was pleased to make use of some primary source quotations in the lecture – in future years I would put these into a separate handout for the seminar.

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Website review picks, Dan’s 12-1 seminar

January 22, 2010

Once you’ve checked with Dan, put up your choices as comments here.


Website review picks, Dan’s 11-12 seminar

January 22, 2010

Once you’ve checked with Dan, put up your choices as comments here.


Website review picks, Helen’s 2-3 seminar

January 22, 2010

Once you’ve checked with Helen, put up your choices as comments here.


Website review picks, Helen’s 12-1 seminar

January 22, 2010

Once you’ve checked with Helen, put up your choices as comments here.


Website review picks, Helen’s 11-12 seminar

January 22, 2010

Once you’ve checked them with Helen, put up your sites as comments here.


Website Reviews

January 22, 2010

Over the coming weeks you need to be identifying websites to review. Have a think for a moment about how you’re going to do this. Ask yourself some questions: what does Dan want to achieve by this? will it be enough to identify just the first few sites that you can find, or to Google ‘Britain Second World War? how can I use this to enhance my research and writing for my final essay?

I want to build up an annotated database that researchers can use to help pick their way through the confused mass of WW2 sites on the web. You are going to contribute to that, and help to create a lasting good from this course.

To do that, you are going to need to be adventurous and commonsensical in your searching. It’s fairly easy to find some Second World War bibliography or links sites, and nearly every website you visit will have some useful links highlighted. Spend some time going through these, and try to pick a variety of sites – think about who has set them up, what their purpose is, and how we can use them as historians. This task expects you to explore. But at the same time, you need to think ‘how useful is this site, and what will the markers think of the choice I have made?’ Try to impress us with what you choose and how you use it.

It is absolutely fine for you to pick sites which relate to your chosen topic for your research essay In fact, that would seem very sensible to me. But use the opportunity to pick a range of different sources.

Once you’ve chosen the sites, you need to do two things. First, check them with us – this is for your benefit, we’d like to be able to advise you if we think a site won’t be helpful to you. Second, once we’ve approved them, put up your choices as comments in the individual seminar posts above this one. Remember, you can’t pick the same sites as others in your seminar group.