module specification

DN5016 - History, Memory and Nostalgia (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title History, Memory and Nostalgia
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay (2000 words) on historiography
Practical Examination 50%   Oral history project - audio tape or film of at least two interviews and a report (1500 words)
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This level 5 module, History, Memory and Nostalgia, critically examines the narratives we create to make sense of the past, both real and imagined, and how we use objects and images to produce and sustain those memories.

The module will examine the concept of historiography and consider how memories are forged, recorded and circulated.  It will also use key works of fiction (such as Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence and W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz) to provide examples of illustrated, fictionalised histories.

Students are actively encouraged to write their own and others’ histories in this module.  The first assessment is a set of oral history interviews, where students will select a key event in the past, which they may or not remember themselves, but which was widely covered in the media (for example, the end of rationing in the UK, Windrush, the first moonwalk, etc) and will interview at least two people to create an oral history of the event.  This will be in the form of an audio recording or film, with an accompanying report of 1500 words.  The other assessment will be an essay, of 2000 words, on historiographic methodologies.

The module will enable students to:
• demonstrate how ‘history’ is constructed from a variety of perspectives and for a variety of reasons and purposes;
• scrutinise, analyse and evaluate a range of personal, group and archival ‘histories’;
• create and/or interpret and present archival material in appropriate formats in order to question and critique that material in relation to its contexts and accepted accounts.

Prior learning requirements

Pass and completion (120 credits) of prior level


A series of weekly lectures, seminars and study trips will enable students to consider the narrativisation of history in a critical way. In particular , they will be encouraged to draw on personal experiences, objects and images in analysing their pasts (for instance, family photographs, souvenirs, keepsakes, hand-me-down clothing, time capsules, social media identities, etc.). LO1, LO2

In lectures, students will consider the concept of historiography and apply some of those ideas in seminar discussions and assessments. This will help with the first assessment.  The other assessment will focus on oral history, and students will interview at least two people about an event which was well covered in the media (for example, the events of 9/11, the election of Margaret Thatcher, the fall of the Berlin wall etc).  They will make an audio recording or film of those interviews and use them to produce an illustrated 1500-word report which will look at the relationship between the interviews and the ‘official’ histories. LO1, LO2, LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

1. recognise that ‘history’ is constructed and investigate how and why using a range of historiographical models and in a range of contexts;
2. apply a range of appropriate approaches for interpreting primary sources to understand the differing ‘histories’ they record;
3. use a range of means for the effective communication of the findings or questions arising from primary research with archives, groups or individuals.

Assessment strategy

The module has two assessments, both weighted at 50%. The first assessment will require students to compare and contrast two historiographical models and demonstrate their application to material and visual cultures.
The second assessment is an oral history project: students will choose at least two people to interview about an event that the interviewees remember and that has been well documented in the official media.  Students will produce an audio recording or film of those interviews, accompanied by a 1500 word report.  In the report, they will focus on the discrepancies between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ histories.


Boym, S. (2001) The Future of Nostalgia, New York: Basic Books
Carbonell, B. M. (2004) Museum Studies,  Blackwell (especially the section on ‘Locating History in the Museum’)
Carr, E.H. (1961) What is History?¸Harmondsworth: Penguin
Hobsbawm, E. & Ranger, T. (eds) (1983) The Invention of Tradition, Cambrdige: Cambridge University Press
Lyotard, J.-F. (1984) The Postmodern Condition: a Report on Knowledge , Manchester: Manchester University Press
Nora, P. (2001) Rethinking France¸ Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Pamuk, O. (2008) The Museum of Innocence¸London: Faber and Faber
Pamuk, O.  (2012)The Innocence of Objects¸New York: Abrams
Schwenger, P. (2006) The Tears of Things: Melancholy and Physical Objects¸ Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
Sebald, W.G. (2001) Austerlitz, London: Penguin
Slater, A. (2014) ‘Dress and Memory’, Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, 5 (1): 125-139
Stewart, S. (1993) On Longing, Durham and London: Duke University Press (especially the section on ‘the souvenir’)