On Tuesday 7th May, Diseases of Modern Life will be back in Dorset this time to talk to students on the theme of Illness and Well-being in the Nineteenth Century. Using our free GCSE resources, we will situate Victorian ideas of health within the context of local literary legend Thomas Hardy's writings, and encourage students to explore the links between fiction and non-fiction, as well as how preparation for English Language can aid you in English Literature (hint: it tests the same skills!).
The workshop will take place at Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Central Dorchester, and the full programme can be seen below. We have sent invitations to all schools local to the area, but if you happen to be able to come along then please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book places for your students – we’d be delighted to welcome you.
This workshop is the result of a collaboration between Diseases of Modern Life and the Thomas Hardy Society, specifically Dr Karin Koehler of Bangor University, Andrew Hewitt, who is undertaking a PhD on Thomas Hardy at the University of Hull, and - especially for the creative responses session - published author and Academic Director of the Thomas Hardy Society, Dr Faysal Mikdadi.
WRITING ABOUT ILLNESS AND WELL-BEING IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
7 May 2019
Free English GCSE Students Workshop
at Shire Hall, Central Dorchester
to help prepare students for unseen non-fiction prose element of the GCSE exam
Arrival and registration
Welcome and overview of the day
· Why we’re here: learning objectives and expectations for the day
· How we’ll approach the topic of illness and well-being: what topics we’ll be reading about and discussing, and a chance to raise any concerns
Nature and well-being in Thomas Hardy
We will discuss a selection of poems/passages from the work of Thomas Hardy about the interactions, positive and negative, between people and nature. This will be our starting-point for thinking about what role nature might play in people’s well-being (globally and individually).
Illness and well-being from the point of view of science and medicine
We will introduce a selection of non-fiction texts highlighting typical nineteenth-century concerns about illness and well-being – for example, the impact of sedentary lifestyles in urban settings and different theories about mental health – and explore some of the challenges for a 21st-century reader of understanding, analysing, and responding to such texts.
Fiction versus non-fiction
Drawing on more examples from Thomas Hardy, who used non-fiction sources as an inspiration for his novels and stories, we will consider the relationship of fiction and non-fiction (which were less separate in nineteenth-century culture than now) to inform the analysis of nineteenth-century prose. How is reading a scientific or medical text different from reading fiction or poetry? How is it similar? How can English Language help you with English Literature and the other way around?
Responding creatively to nineteenth-century concerns about illness and well-being
We will prepare creative responses – e.g. poems, short narratives, drawings – to the anxiety about the disconnection of nature and humans, in Hardy’s day and in ours. What links the nineteenth century to the present?
The day will end with a practical session in which participants and facilitators will collaborate on preparing an answer to a mock exam question featuring an unseen extract of nineteenth century literary non-fiction.