This month’s blog is written by Katie Barnes, a PhD researcher at the University of Salford. Her research examines representations of motherhood and maternity in contemporary Irish literature, including the depiction of the physical maternal body and reproductive choice in post-Repeal writing. She sits on the council for the British Association for Irish Studies and collaborates with the South African Modernism team on the schools project funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership grant; the Research Impact Fund (University of Salford); and the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology (University of Salford).
On the 20th of June 2023, the South African Modernism team were thrilled to attend Trafford College in Manchester to record an episode of National College Podcast.
National College Podcast is the only podcast of its kind in the UK that is dedicated to people studying at sixth form or college. It is managed by Jimmy Ewing, lecturer in Radio at the University of Salford, alongside students from Salford’s School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Most critically, it gives sixth form and college students the chance to get involved in creating and presenting a podcast alongside students from the university.
Despite being unable to record the podcast in our usual setting of a busy communal area due to exams, we were able to set up the pop-up studio in a separate classroom. This worked well and still had the same benefits for the students. Katie and Hannah from the South African Modernism 1880-2020 team were accompanied by BA Hons English Literature students Aiden Simpson and Mahirah Rahman, and BA Hons Television and Radio Production students Sophie Stansfield and Dylan Pengelley.
Salford student Aiden and Trafford College student Harvey made an excellent presenting team and were impressive in their confident delivery. They were joined by Mahirah, who gave an outstanding interview about her experience of being an English student at the University of Salford. She captured her favourite things about her degree whilst reassuring the students that university is not as scary as it may seem. They also interviewed English lecturer Dr Mark Yates about his role at the university, and he dispelled some of the myths about the careers that an English degree can lead to. He also gave the students some top tips for a successful university application, which Harvey indicated were very important for himself and other A-level students.
During the recording of the podcast, the remaining English Literature students were tasked with completing a close reading of an extract from Peter Abrahams’ Mine Boy (1946). Analysing an unseen extract under pressure is not an easy task, however the students were up to the challenge and offered incredibly interesting insights into their interpretation of the text such as 'I think that race and the power dynamic which creates a hierarchy in this passage is important as it shows that there’s a standard in the mistreatment of workers dependent on race'. Another student noted that 'there’s a very clever juxtapose between the harsh masculine undertone at the first section which contrasts with the pleasant imagery of the conclusion. It creates a united effect of the workers despite their race'.
Student feedback was positive about the experience. One student said that it was useful to be ‘practising my analysing skills and trying out critical thinking and practical application of skills that we learn in class’. whilst another highlighted that they are ‘very excited to take that style of study past eighteen’. The students impressed everyone with their tenacity and drive to drill down into the meanings generated by the text and find how they could apply the themes and skills that they had learned to other texts that sit outside of their syllabus.
You can listen to our Trafford College podcast on mixcloud here.
If you are interested in National College Podcast, then you can read more and listen to previous episodes here. If you are a teacher and would like to organise a National College Podcast x South African Modernism visit for your own students, then you can contact the team here: email@example.com.