Research projects Literature and Drama Research Group

Current Projects

BLT19 - Nineteenth-Century Business, Labour, Trade and Temperance Periodicals

The BLT19 Project encourages teachers to use digitised historical periodicals in the classroom. The website provides lesson plans, digitised publications, case studies, and contextual materials suitable for secondary and undergraduate students.

The periodicals digitised by the BLT19 Project contain a variety of content well-suited to the classroom both in terms of subject matter and length: nonfiction articles, short stories, serial fiction, poetry, advertising, and illustrations.

Recent Projects

Shakespeare in Hong Kong

As in many former British colonies, Shakespeare constituted an important component in the colonial education system in Hong Kong; knowledge of his work was compulsory for those seeking to advance to higher education, including the education of the government elite. Even after the 1997 'handover' – which resulted in significant political, social and economic changes in the territory – Shakespeare continues to play a significant role in secondary and higher education without the revision of canonical ideas about his greatness. This is indicative of the wider issues involved in the so-called 'decolonisation' of the Hong Kong Chinese education system. All the research in this area highlights the need for adjustment in how Shakespeare is viewed and approached, and the uses to which his works are put in the classroom and on the stage. Adele Lee found that the teaching of Shakespeare has not kept pace with the reforms of the Hong Kong Education Bureau since 1997 and is not meeting the Bureau's stated learning outcomes.

Lee investigated and, initially through the investigation process itself, sought to influence current attitudes to Shakespeare in Hong Kong. In January 2013, Lee visited Hong Kong to meet the Education Bureau, the British Council, theatre practitioners, and teachers and students in four schools and two universities. Through workshops, interviews, questionnaires, and classroom and theatre practice observation, attitudes were gauged and significant issues identified, including the need for new pedagogic materials appropriate for students and, crucially, teachers. Lee then went on to generate teaching materials which are being promoted by the Hong Kong Education Bureau, the British Council and theatre practitioners. Shakespeare In Hong Kong, although it only started recently, has already induced policy change in the British Council's Shakespeare World Wide Classroom project as well as in the Hong Kong Education Bureau, influencing curriculum and informing cultural content regarding race, gender, sexuality, class and colonialism.

Activating the Reminiscence Theatre Archive

Reminiscence Theatre is a sub-set of applied drama which performs new shows based on the verbatim memories of older people. It brings the history of ordinary individuals alive, supplementing and challenging traditional historical narratives. Pam Schweitzer founded the Age Exchange Theatre Trust, the first full-time professional theatre company to specialise in making reminiscence shows with performing to senior citizens in 1983. Between then and 2005 the trust performed 30 different plays across the UK, often in residential care homes. Schweitzer meanwhile was assembling the Reminiscence Theatre Archive to hold the trust's oral history transcripts, play scripts, photographs and production documentation. To assure its sustainability and promote its reach, in 2012 she donated it to the University of Greenwich which had been teaching applied drama and making theatre based on oral and local history since 2006. Heather Lilley and Harry Derbyshire wanted to investigate whether new reminiscence theatre could be created from archive as well as new interviews: in other words they wanted to activate the archive to give value to the community beyond the academic.

Reminiscence theatre's primary goals are to improve the well-being of senior citizens – especially those with dementia - and to promote intergenerational dialogue. Since it began formally in 2012, ARTA has successfully engaged 100 marginalised older people and over 200 members of the general public, and trained 13 young volunteers in the practice of reminiscence theatre. The project has created a new model of reminiscence theatre by proving that archive material can be used instead of live interviews. It has learned the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and found creative solutions to the problems. It has also given the Reminiscence Theatre Archive a long-term 'living' future. Finally ARTA has disseminated good practice internationally through a website, articles, a series of training events and conferences.

Literature and Drama Research Group is part of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Greenwich.