Thursday, 13 August 2015

Research-based preparation

In 2015-16 I'm teaching a final-year undergraduate course on art and visual culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain and I am using the opportunity to revise and expand a paper I gave on Rubens's painting Landscape with St George and the Dragon (1630-34, Royal Collection) at a conference I co-organised in 2011 (Landscape and the Arts of Prospect, Paul Mellon Centre, London).  

There's a nice synthesis between teaching a topic and doing research in the same area, but I want to go a step further and make the bold suggestion that expanding and revising the paper actually counts as teaching preparation itself. Since, if the idea behind research-based education is that the most effective learning takes place when students enquire for themselves, doesn't this also hold true for lecturers, and especially when we're preparing a course in an area that is not our usual field of expertise? This is certainly the case for me - my long-term research project is in late Georgian London, and the painter George Morland in particular - and so I am using the opportunity offered by the summer break to write up this paper for publication, and also - the two things can't be seperated, without a great deal of effort - to learn about the subject itself, and develop my particular fields of interest, understanding of the key issues, and topics for further investigation, in preparation for teaching in the autumn.  

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