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Eloquent Things

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 10:00am to Friday, March 1, 2019 - 1:00pm
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2PH


We will also explore how teaching with objects can offer new routes in to your own research; open up new ways of working with students in the classroom; or lead to inter- or multi-disciplinary forms of teaching.

The course is led by Dr Jim Harris, Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean. Jim trained as an art historian at the Courtauld Institute of Art, specialising in late medieval and Renaissance polychrome sculpture, but his teaching at Oxford spans a wide range of disciplines from the Medical Sciences to the Humanities, calling into service the full breadth of the Ashmolean’s collections.

Jim’s co-teacher is Dr Ushashi Dasgupta, Departmental Lecturer in English Literature. Ushashi participated in Eloquent Things whilst writing her DPhil and has since developed object-based classes on Time and the Victorian Novel and Modernisms in 20th Century Literature. 

The course runs at the Ashmolean Museum over four consecutive mornings, with a small group of 8 DPhils and Postdocs. It is essential that participants commit to the whole course.

Learning outcomes
 By the end of this course, you will be able to:
• Understand some of the conservation issues surrounding the use of various materials and object types
• Handle museum objects correctly
• Approach curatorial staff in a museum with some confidence regarding how one might work with museum objects in teaching 
• Articulate some of the advantages and challenges of working with objects 
• Discuss the ways in which a group of students might interact with objects, and explain how these interactions might contribute to student learning in your discipline
• Design a lesson which makes use of one or more objects either related to your field of research/teaching or to another pertinent discipline
• Design a class based around teaching in a museum gallery, centred on objects on display

Course Structure
 Tuesday: Why Objects? Looking and Handling in Museums 
• Handling objects of different types
• Conservation issues raised by object handling
• When not to handle
• How to look
• On the spot written assignment: object description
 Wednesday: Contexts for Teaching
• Where are you likely to teach with objects?
• What courses might be appropriate for teaching with objects?
• How can objects speak into more than one discipline?
• How are objects useful in thematic teaching?
• Assignment: plan a lesson, with a partner from another discipline, using objects from the Museum
 Thursday: Teaching in the Study Room
• Deliver and discuss the lesson plans
• Plan a short teaching presentation around an object on display in the galleries
 Friday: Teaching in a museum gallery
• Deliver and discuss gallery presentations


Booking is essential.

University of Oxford only