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Reflecting on the Literature and History Annual Conference: Diving into Aquatic Themes

As a part of their degree, second-year English and History students take part in an annual public conference where they present a series of papers based around a central theme.

7 September 2023

Why Rivers, Lakes and Seas?

In 2023 the theme was Rivers, Lakes and Seas. The papers covered a wide range of topics, including representations of sea monsters and water nymphs, the economic and political impact of maritime networks, and the role of water in shaping national and regional identities. Students also researched the significance of bodies of water in works by Virginia Woolf, J.G. Ballard and Herman Melville.

The theme was a very resonant one in terms of both history and the history of literature. It also connected to the current conversations about the environment and sustainability, and links to the University of Derby's Civic Agenda.

Video of the University of Derby's annual Literature and History Public Conference 2023: Rivers, Lakes and Seas

View Literature and History Public Conference 2023: Rivers, Lakes and Seas video transcript

How does the conference help students?

The conference constituted one of the most distinctive elements of our provision at Derby and demonstrated our commitment to forms of assessment that build a broader range of skills than is traditional in our disciplines. 

It was also a key example of the ways in which students co-created the curriculum in these subjects at Derby through their research.

It was purposely designed to enhance our student experience, build confidence, develop transferable skills like communication and presenting, and allowed for students to practice their research skills ahead of their final year independent study project. Students also had the opportunity to market their papers using a variety of media.

The conference has produced much outstanding work since its inception in 2008 and has been praised by external examiners for its simultaneous development of high-level academic and professional skills.

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