Eloquent Things

Ancient soldiers and civilians, seemingly in distress

In an increasingly virtual world, direct encounters with real objects have come to be regarded as important and versatile tools in University teaching across a wide range of disciplines. The Ashmolean has established itself as a pioneer of this exciting new pedagogy.

Eloquent Things is a short course is intended as an introduction to the principles and practice of teaching with objects and comprises four mornings in the study rooms and galleries of the Ashmolean Museum.

Using works of art and archaeological material gathered from the Ashmolean’s extraordinary collections, we will discover methodologies that are also applicable to rare books, buildings, everyday objects or, indeed, any type of material culture. We will consider how you might collaborate with curatorial staff in museums, and the advantages and disadvantages of working in the Study Room with objects taken from storage or in the galleries looking at objects on display.

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.


Jim Harris

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