Fostering criticality through experiential and multimodal teaching: designing and delivering an immersive literature and intercultural communication programme

1.INTRODUCTION

The article discusses a case study of a bespoke summer programme in Literature and Intercultural Communication, which was delivered for the first time at the University of Leeds Language Centre in summer 2018. An intensive 4-week programme, with 20 contact hours per week, the course was specifically designed for undergraduate students at a small Liberal Arts college in Hong Kong. As English is the medium of instruction at their home institution, all programme participants were competent users of English, with a language proficiency of IELTS 6.5 or higher. Twelve students joined the programme for its first iteration, with most having completed 3 years of the 4-year degree programme BA in Contemporary English Studies at their university. While not a credit-bearing module for the University of Leeds, the summer programme was an immersive component which students were required to complete in lieu of two credit-bearing modules at the partner institution.

The programme was received quite positively by the participating students and partner institution. In what follows next, I reflect on the principles that guided the design and delivery of this course, i.e., criticality, experientiality and multimodality. In addition to drawing on relevant scholarly literature, the paper also makes use of programme documentation, lesson materials, student work, and the results of informal and formal student feedback carried out at the start, halfway and upon completion of the programme. With this I am hoping to contribute to the sharing of good practice in the field of content-based EAP provision, but also to ongoing conversations around experiential, multimodal and integrated pedagogies.

2.CRITICALITY AND SITUATED DEFAMILIARISATION

The programme design was academic literacy oriented (Lea and Street, 2006), responding to the University of Leeds’ institutional transition from a ‘bolt-on’ approach to academic skills teaching (Bennett et al., 2000) to a more embedded one (Cottrell, 2001). It was also aligned with the Language Centre’s strategy of content-based EAP provision (Bond and Whong, 2017) so that language teaching was delivered within a meaningful, discipline-specific context (Hyland, 2002) and within a discursive framework that facilitated students’ engagement and promoted inclusivity (Wingate, 2015). As scholars have argued, however, further to a skills-integrated and discipline-focused teaching provision it is vital that students are guided to develop a skillset ‘to negotiate and critically engage with the numerous texts, modalities, and technologies’ which they are likely to face at some point in their life (Morgan and Ramanathan, 2005, p.152). In this sense, when designing the syllabus, I aimed to respond to calls for a more critical engagement with familiar certainties and conventional forms of knowledge along the lines of what Sarah Benesch (2009) calls ‘critical EAP’ (CEAP). Criticality, however, transcends the written and spoken verbal domains:

To be critical is to call up for scrutiny, whether through embodied action or discourse practice, the rules of exchange within a social field. To do so requires an analytic move to self-position oneself as Other even in a market or field that might not necessarily construe or structurally position one as Other (Luke, 2004, p.26)

As Allan Luke’s comment highlights being critical involves sidestepping the old certainties and comfort zones of the self, resulting in a kind of defamiliarisation. This process of self-othering presupposes a notion of identity which is less uniform and rigid, inviting participants – both learners and tutors – to reconsider their existing understanding of who they are and how they relate to the world (Morgan and Ramanathan, 2005). This is not necessarily about forgetting one’s roots or unquestionably embracing dominant identity positions but rather about critical ‘deterritorialisation’ of the learning and teaching process (Deleuze and Guattari, 1972).

One way in which I hoped to achieve the decentring of the various subject positions in the classroom was by designing a syllabus which was multifocal, as well as integrated. With a three-pronged approach to the development of learners’ literary expertise, intercultural competence and linguistic proficiency, I aimed to meet not only the specific content requirements of the partner institution, but also address the learners’ existing knowledge, future aspiration and personal interests. Although they were working towards a BA in Contemporary English Studies, students had completed different electives at their home institution and as a result there was some variation in their subject-specific expertise, e.g. some had more extensive knowledge of linguistics whereas others had completed primarily literature and culture modules. To address this differential, I opted for a wide range of core readings – from 19th century novels and modernist essays to song lyrics and websites – which provided sufficient content for literary analysis and language development (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Programme overview

In addition to enhanced engagement, the generic variety allowed for instances of ‘critical reading’ (Wallace, 2003, pp.25-26) and ‘juxtaposition’ of texts (Morgan and Ramanathan, 2005, p.157) to take place, which ultimately work against the ‘methodological nationalism’ (Wimmer and Schiller, 2003, p.301) that inevitably underpins a British literature and culture course. Instead of constructing literature as bound by the geopolitical borders of the nation and imaginatively constrained by a uniform image of national identity, the syllabus foregrounded the diversity within British culture, and the ongoing flows and exchanges with others. Thus, one of the readings for Week 1, which aimed to introduce learners to their new context, i.e., Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, offered one set of images of Yorkshire – of lavish estates, expansive moors and luscious rose gardens. Texts discussed subsequently, however, such as Tony Harrison’s poem ‘Them and [uz]’ and Caryl Phillips’ novel The Lost Child, exposed students to landscapes and soundscapes inflected by class, gender and ethnicity, and in this way challenged received notions of national identity and cultural production as uniform and fixed. Discussions of how differently gendered, classed, racialised and bodied subjects are represented in these texts invited students to investigate the complexity of cultural practice, well beyond the simplistic us/them (British/non-British) dichotomy. Moreover, the inclusion of texts that reference Britain’s imperial past (in The Secret Garden) and postcolonial legacy (in The Lost Child) encouraged learners to consider flows within and between cultures, i.e., the ‘cultural interface’ (Holliday, 2012, p.47), that challenge the understanding of culture as a sealed-off and impregnable entity.

Further to text selection which aimed to de-centre normative notions of cultural identity and literary canon, the syllabus and course assignments drove the process of learners’ critical defamiliarisation. The syllabus was ‘theme-based’ (Brinton et al., 2003, p.14), with the topics providing an overarching intellectual coherence and focus. Given the location of Leeds University, the immersive nature of the programme and students’ physical presence in Yorkshire, it was appropriate for the thematic clusters to foreground the link between writing and place (Figure 1). However, instead of reinforcing any received notions of identity and place, the weekly themes and discovery project assignments encouraged students to deploy the optic of ‘making strange’ to their readings of the cultural sites and texts (Wallace, 2003, p.75). They did this by investigating critically the diversity of identities within the target culture and their manifestations in a variety of cultural practices. However, students were also expected to gain critical distance and consider their own identity construction and its interactions with place and cultural praxis, and in the process revise prior assumptions. The topic for Week 1, ‘Yorkshire in 12 objects’, for example, encouraged them to ‘notice’ different features of the physical and cultural landscape in which learners found themselves, comparing these new realities to contexts they were already familiar with. Despite the discovery nature of course tasks, students tended to reproduce well-established ideas of what Britain is and what it means to be British usually contrasting with their home culture and experiences elsewhere. Thus, in the project assignment that week – a class wiki about ‘found’ objects that represent Yorkshire – they tended to assume a reporting stance with minimal elements of critical reflection. Entries would provide an arguably objective account of a symbolic object, e.g., the Yorkshire rose, Leeds Grand or Burmantofts pottery, in addition to registering an element of surprise at a novel phenomenon or contrasting it to a cultural reality in the home context.

In the following week, the topic ‘Places that make us’ aimed to build up on this descriptive stage and enhance students’ critical awareness of the impact of place on identity construction. Through the use of four different texts (a novel, an essay, a poem and a TV programme) that examined the varying impact Haworth and the moors have had on four different authors (Emily Brontë, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Tony Robinson), and then comparing these to the learners’ own experience of the same sites, this thematic unit explored the mutually constitutive relationship between self and place. The mini-project that week – a personal blog about the class trip to Haworth – showed the students’ growing ability to consider alternative ways of reading the same landscape, which came from their attempt to relate to an other, in this case Virginia Woolf and her depiction of a 1904 visit to the Parsonage. Learners, however, were not expected to take part in a seamless cultural assimilation. Rather, the diverse vantage points and experiences of the same site aimed to heighten the participants’ awareness of their situatedness: much as Bala Kumaravadivelu (2007) argues, they are not ‘dangling in cultural limbo …. [but] [they] … live in several cultural domains at the same time – jumping in and out of them, sometimes with ease and sometimes with unease’ (p.5). Instead of merely listing differences between home and target culture, or between own experiences and those of a ‘native informant’ such as Woolf, and thus assuming the position of an external observer as they tended to do in the Week 1 project assignment, or uncritically identify with the British ‘I’, learners allowed themselves to be moved by the immersive experience and responded with a degree of empathy and criticality to Woolf’s essay about her visit to Haworth. In their individual blog writing back to Woolf and her lament about the shabbiness of the village, for example, one student dwelt on the preservation of history through the musealisation of the high street in Haworth, whereas another contemplated the architectural design of historical buildings, hinting at her ambivalence about the advance of modernity. In the process, both reminisced about the assumptions with which they arrived with, took stock of the spatial and temporal distances between their experience and that of others, and contemplated the internal diversity within cultures as well as the ability of cultural meanings and their imaginative power to cross national borders.

3.EXPERIENTIALITY AND CREATIVE UNLEARNING

Fieldwork was crucial to the development of this critical consciousness, insofar as visits to relevant sites and interactions beyond the classroom provided learners with alternative experiences to those available in the institutionally sanctioned literature or formal classroom activities, thus facilitating the pluralisation of interpretative frameworks. As scholars have observed, experiential learning is not only based on lived experience and is therefore holistic (Beard and Wilson, 2002; Moon, 2005), but is also oriented towards developing learners’ critical insight and reflexivity (Fenwick, 2000; Usher and Solomon, 1999). Its practical nature immerses students in authentic situations, and helps improve their linguistic fluency, autonomy and a range of cognitive and meta-cognitive skills. And yet, somewhat paradoxically, what I found particularly empowering about the experiential learning on this programme was the sense of critical vulnerability that it engendered. The sense of vulnerability I am referring to stemmed from the ‘kinaesthetic-directed instructional’ settings (Fenwick, 2000) and ontological uncertainty that inevitably come with experientiality: be it fieldtrips to new locations, ad hoc guest speakers, or role plays on unfamiliar topics, experiential components are likely to be lived and interpreted with a significant degree of variability by different actors/learners, which may not always sit comfortably with their prior experiences and assumptions. This ‘unstitching’ (Brew, 2000, p. 87) of established schemata might be alarming but is not necessarily destructive; neither does it have to be a process of wilful amnesia or romantic nostalgia about the loss of received wisdom. On the contrary; as Angela Brew (2000) elaborates in her sartorial metaphor below, the process of unlearning can have a transformative potential and ultimately stimulate learners’ creativity: it is ‘like unravelling the whole and knitting it all up again […] Unlearning means that what we know changes our world view, or an aspect of it, and we cannot reconstitute it in its original form.’ (p.88) And while educators have commented on the slipperiness of experience as a potential challenge – to learners who might be resistant to student-centred learning or to tutors who adopt modes of assessment that focus on output rather than process (Moon, 2005; Qualters, 2000) – I consider it vital for the unlearning, or at least questioning, of established notions, the development of criticality and stimulation of creativity.

Experientiality therefore became a core principle that informed the course activities, materials and assignments on the summer programme. The aim was to encourage learners to appreciate being physically present in the UK while examining a range of British cultural texts and the function of the language deployed to express the relationship between place and writing. To ensure maximum engagement, there was a mix of classroom- and field- based activities, the latter proving to be extremely popular methods of teaching and learning. In the course of the four weeks, learners took part in fieldwork in Haworth, Whitby and Beverley, and a number of locations around Leeds. These, however, were not a mere add-on to formal class instruction (i.e., part of the social calendar); fieldtrips were integrated into the teaching materials and project assignments. The trips to Haworth and Whitby, for example, informed discussions of Wuthering Heights and Dracula, respectively. While on site, learners were expected to record impressions, collect artefacts and ‘found’ objects, and interact with external speakers and members of the general public. The experiential approach was further enhanced by the homestay arrangements and extracurricular activities available to students on the programme. Staying with a local family for a month enabled learners to obtain first-hand experience of cultural phenomena discussed in class, interact spontaneously in authentic situations, and develop analytical skills through critical observation and discussion. Participants were also encouraged to make the most of other opportunities to enhance their understanding of the target culture and language by getting involved in specially arranged social activities: lunchtime talks, film nights and Language Centre events (e.g., Book Chat). These were facilitated by a Leeds graduate working as a social assistant, who provided variety to the teaching and created further informal learning opportunities. In lessons students were invited to draw on these experiences, comparing to and evaluating against other home and academic contexts, which tapped into the affective aspect of learning and raised awareness of the relevance of education to life outside the classroom (Vermunt, 1996).

In terms of class materials, given the learners’ relatively limited familiarity with Yorkshire, I designed cultural awareness sessions which either introduced a site to be visited or drew on has been discovered during a fieldtrip. For example, the lesson on Brontë Country (Figure 2) provided some basic information about a location to be visited, whilst also preparing the learners for an upcoming trip to the University Library archive collection. In this sense, even though the lesson activities were classroom-based, the subject matter – a walk through Brontë Country shown in a TV documentary – was experiential and prepared the learners contextually, thematically and even methodologically for the upcoming fieldwork. At the same time, the embedding of experiential learning into formalised classroom activities and its inclusion into teaching materials as a discipline-specific methodological tool also exposed the ‘constructed’ nature of experience (Milner, 1987) – after all experience is shaped by the cultural milieu – and alerted students against purely sentimental interpretations of their somatic and emotional landscapes.

Figure 2: Week 2 syllabus

The integrated nature of the lesson itself – as seen in the jigsaw listening activity in Appendix I – offered learners a multitude of learning opportunities: to increase their subject-specific expertise (the cultural and historical background of the Brontës), hone discipline-specific skills (different approaches to analysing literary texts – archival, close reading, experiential), work on language development (e.g., listening, grammar and vocabulary to do with description) and engage in higher order cognitive and meta-cognitive skills (e.g., reflect on the role of experience in literary analysis and learning). Experientiality was therefore fundamental to all lesson objectives – content, language and skills – which lent intellectual and methodological coherence to the teaching over the entire week.

Whereas the integrated nature of the teaching materials presented learners with one approach to the ‘stitching’ or coming together of different aspects of experience, the scaffolding of the lesson tasks enabled the process of ‘unlearning’ to unfold. In the post-fieldtrip cultural awareness session on tourism and Whitby, for example (Appendix II), I deployed Edward de Bono’s ‘thinking hats’ activity (1985) to direct students’ critical engagement with two academic texts on dark/Dracula tourism and thus facilitate and deepen the analysis of their first-hand experience of Whitby. The open questions in this task allowed learners to draw on new and not so new experiences from a variety of cultural contexts. Students considered what they had assumed a Gothic environment might look based on (Western) readings and adaptations of Dracula; then they contemplated these assumptions against their direct impressions on the day of our trip to Whitby – the idyllic views over the sun-drenched town, the touristy feel around the busy harbour and the majestic if somewhat sinister abbey grounds; and finally, learners re-appraised their experiences of literary/media and dark tourist sites elsewhere (e.g., Ground Zero in New York, US; or ‘cliff villages’ in Liangshan, China). In this way their prior learning was incorporated into the lesson whilst also being placed under critical scrutiny. The seminar-style discussion left room for student self-management and peer-learning to take place, with the tutor acting as a facilitator and withholding any excessive judgement. There was a safe space for learners to explore and work through the experiential and critical discoveries made before, during and after the fieldtrip. The focus of the task therefore was not so much on the language output or ability to express subject-specific knowledge, but rather on the process – of discovery, analysis and learning.

It was through the project assignments on the summer programme, though, that the creative aspects of unlearning became most evident. The benefits of project-based language teaching (PBLT) and its suitability for exploratory student-centred teaching, integrated language and content instruction, provision of meaningful context and authentic language, and the socialisation of students into the target culture have been highlighted in the academic literature (Beckett and Miller, 2006; Beckett and Slater, 2005; Hedge, 1993; Stoller, 1997). Thus, when designing the course assessment, I made sure that each week’s topic was linked to an inquiry-based VLE-hosted mini-project: a class-wiki about ‘found’ objects that represent or symbolise Yorkshire in Week 1; an individual blog entry addressed to Virginia Woolf about the class trip to Haworth in Week 2; a team screencast for a Dracula-themed event set on the grounds of Whitby Abbey in Week 3; and an individual presentation on own creative work (in any medium) responding to any issue on the course in Week 4. Learners were expected to make use of the content, language, fieldtrip discoveries and academic skills covered that week, with the difficulty level gradually progressing from descriptive accounts to creative outputs. To a degree, the knowledge and skills to be demonstrated in each project were prescribed; learners were given clear instructions what cultural texts and language functions should be made use of, making sure that only a limited amount of high-frequency language encountered in the course materials was targeted (Levis and Levis, 2003). Nonetheless, there was plenty of room for learners to shape further the content and form of their assignment. For instance, one of the screencasts for a Dracula-themed play made creative use of the multiple cultural resources available to the students: they presented an East/West amalgam of Gothic characters and romantic plots, unfolding on an atmospheric, and fully accessible, amphitheatrical stage on the grounds of the historical Whitby Abbey. While references to the Gothic in the characterisation and setting of the play, and episodes from Bram Stoker’s Dracula in its plotting demonstrated students’ understanding of the source text and a range of literary genres and devices, the incorporation of crosscultural elements (e.g., vampires vs. jiangshis), clever ‘remixing’ (Hafner, 2015; cf. Lessig, 2008) of existing cultural texts, awareness of diverse audiences (e.g., provisions for wheelchair users in the stage design) showed their ability to adapt literary, cultural and communicative competence in order to generate new and unexpected meanings (Hafner, 2015). As all projects were formative, students felt safe to experiment and re-discover what Roland Barthes calls ‘the pleasure of the text’ (1975), so often reduced to a purely assessment-driven exercise.

Despite the historically mixed reception of project work by language learners because of limited teacher input and unstructured language work, increased workload and autonomy, and insufficient IT support (Beckett, 2002; Beckett and Slater, 2005; Fried-Booth, 1982; Hafner and Miller, 2011; Moulton and Holmes, 2000), formal and informal student feedback on the summer programme at Leeds was largely positive. At the start, an informal Padlet-hosted survey releveled that only 12% of the learners had any enthusiasm for the upcoming fieldtrips, which could be explained to a degree with lack of familiarity with and exposure to this mode of delivery. This percentage rose to 36% at the halfway point and 83% in the final survey, with 50% of the students suggesting more trips to be added to the programme.

Figure 3: Student feedback on effective teaching and learning (end-of-course survey)

As can be seen in the summary of respondents’ evaluation of the learning methods on the programme from the formal end-of-course survey (Figure 3), 83% saw fieldwork as an effective method of teaching and learning; interestingly, and somewhat unexpectedly, other experiential components, such as curator talks with object-handling workshops and independent project work, scored even higher in terms of their perceived effectiveness for learners: 90% and 100%, respectively. The analysis of the quantitative data further showed that learners did not consider the development of non-linguistic expertise – in literature, culture or transferable skills – as an obstacle to their language learning (Figure 4) (cf., Beckett and Slater, 2005; Moulton and Holmes, 2000).

Figure 4: Student perception of own knowledge and skills development (end-of-course survey)

4.MULTIMODALITY AND LEARNER AUTONOMY

Whilst considering the multiplicity of subject positions and cognitive vantage points is constitutive of one form of criticality, as Morgan and Ramanathan (2005) point out the development of learners’ pluri-literacies in shaping a range of modalities and technologies beyond the purely textual engenders another. Such emphasis on the multimodal nature of meaning-making challenges the prioritisation of the verbal, foregrounding the role of a range of communicative modes and resources – be it visual, aural, tactile, spatial or proprioceptive, written, spoken or digital (Early et al., 2015; Kress, 2010; van Leeuwen, 2004). Deploying multimodality in teaching has been recognised as having a positive impact on literacy, both in first and second language classroom settings. On the one hand, multimodal teaching draws on the pluri-lingual repertoires that learners make use of in their everyday communication. As I have argued elsewhere, this approach can enhance their engagement, facilitate the comprehension of unfamiliar concepts and diversify reading practices (Marinkova, 2009). Interspersing focus on the verbal with an intimate exploration of the visual and tactile aspects of a text engages learners in a more holistic fashion; their attention is redirected from interpreting the content/meaning of language to tracing the shapes, sounds and textures on the page and their perlocutionary effect on audiences’ bodies, thoughts and emotions (Austin, 1975). In this sense, even though a wider range of semiotic domains are examined, learners are encouraged to look again at language and rediscover its dynamic nature and its power to affect (Stille and Prasad, 2015). On the other hand, multimodality in language learning is fundamental to the cultural diversity and ideological pluralism that the contemporary language classroom aims to foster, constructing learners as agents and recognising the value of a wider range of cultural practices. Encouraging students not only to unravel but also to create multimodal works enables them to ‘change the script’ of how knowledge is produced and communicated (Stille and Prasad, 2015, p.612), and positions them as partners in the teaching and learning process. Pedagogic practices as a result are pluralised in order to address and support the range of communicative competences and levels of learning autonomy in the classroom (Newfield and D’Abdon, 2015).

A fundamental feature of the methodology on the summer programme was the focus on the learner; teaching was not only a way of enhancing learners’ understanding of a field of inquiry and the application of a set of disciplinary practices, but also an opportunity to stimulate curiosity and build a ‘community of practice’ (Lave and Wenger, 1991), in which students are not passive recipients but active partners. I aimed to achieve this by making the most of ‘the social affordances of technologies’ (Conole et al., 2008, p.521): elements of blended learning in the delivery of teaching and assessments addressed not only learners’ different learning styles and ‘new literacies’ (Gee, 2008), but were also in formats that were more relevant and inclusive. Thus, all sessions were supported by a range of ICT such as PowerPoint, video and sound recordings (see Appendix I) and accessible via the university’s VLE. In addition, all project assignments involved digital input from the learners either in the creation of the work (e.g., producing blogs) or in the sharing of the output (e.g., recordings of presentations via the VLE). The student-generated content raised awareness of the benefits of multimodal and ‘rhizomatic’ learning (Cormier, 2008) that goes beyond the confines of verbal signification and formal education. And so did the feedback (Figure 5); while learners considered the textual and experiential input they had received on the programme, as well as the verbal and visual layout of their creative assignments, I also made sure that my feedback engages their multiple literacies. In the case of the individual blogs, I used short discursive feedback to address the content and colour-coding to highlight recurrent language issues. The visual impact of the different colours was likely to draw students’ attention in a piece of work that was highly visual itself, and without engaging in any explicit error correction.

Figure 5: Multimodal student-generated content and tutor feedback

While the learning communities that this programme ended up building were largely ‘informal’ (Hafner and Miller, 2011), with learners being involved in group work or providing peer feedback, it transformed the learning process into an evolving partnership between tutor and students. This was enabled by the interactive nature of the course materials and the extensive use of ‘multimodal compositions’ (Hafner, 2015, p.487). Thus, in the final project assignment, learners were expected to put together a creative piece (in any format or medium) which addressed an issue covered on the programme, and then talk about it in an individual presentation. The range of creative output was impressive: from poems and rapping, through mini-guides and posters, to dance and paper folding, participants mobilised their multimodal repertoires that reflected personal interests, cultural routes and academic competences (in literature, culture and language) and shared knowledge that had been garnered independently and was beyond the classroom materials. And even though some output was less reliant on linguistic resources, it was personally meaningful, stimulated the learners’ imagination, and fostered their autonomy. For instance, an origami representation of a student’s host family’s history of migration from Kenya and India to the UK had minimum language input, the emphasis being on colours, layout, textures and key words. And yet, the multimodal artefact she had created and the decisions she had made in the process raised interesting questions about artistic representations of the past: Do they have to be chronological? Are they always linear? What takes up centre-stage? How culturally specific do they have to be? At the same time, in her oral presentation the learner unpacked her creative decisions, and engaged in discussion with her peers. Both outputs showed the extent to which learners were willing to take risks creating output, often in genres they were not that familiar with, and ability to produce knowledge that exceeded the parameters of the lesson and relied on peer (rather tutor) input. Analysis of the qualitative data of the end-of-course survey completed by programme participants shows their appreciation of and even need for more peer learning opportunities. Commenting on the degree to which the summer programme helped them develop their language proficiency, one student elaborated that this was due to ‘Interacting with the class and teacher and also other students’. Another pointed out that ‘talking to the teaching assistant’ [sic – social assistant] helped them get involved in life outside the classroom. As a matter of fact, more peer learning opportunities with local and other international students were mentioned as the main recommendation for the further improvement of the programme.

5.MOVING FORWARD

While the overall student response to the programme has been positive, especially in terms of experiential learning and multimodal project assignments, aspects such as socialisation with peers and engagement with non-compulsory learning activities that could be improved. Increasing the social affordances of the summer programme is likely to raise learners’ awareness and appreciation of the complexity and diversity within the cultural contexts in which they find themselves, and as a result reinforcing the critical edge of their learning experience. One way in which this could be achieved, especially if the group remains closed, is through the formalisation of active research outside the classroom and asking learners to incorporate interviews with locals or Leeds university students into their project assignments (Parks, 2000). Such an approach is likely to create additional opportunities for incidental and peer learning, as well as enhancing the critical self-othering and creative un-learning discussed earlier. In addition, enabling learners to take ownership of some or all forms of incidental learning could enhance their engagement but also enable them to build their own extended (or alternative) community of practice. Thus, rather than the institution or tutor taking the lead in organising extracurricular learning activities, learners could assume the responsibility for the planning, publicity and running of events that serve the needs of the larger student body. Incorporating such elements of service-learning into the programme is likely to develop a host of language, transferable and intercultural skills (most importantly improve the socialisation of the participants into the host institution and target culture), but also enhance students’ sense of agency and communal responsibility (Heuser, 1999; Morento-Lopez et al., 2017). Learning can in this way become a much more holistic experience in which learners define and drive the agenda, but are also equally prepared to learn from and share what they have learnt with their peers and society at large.

Address for correspondence: m.d.marinkova@leeds.ac.uk

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APPENDIX I: LESSON MATERIALS

Writing Landscape: Brontë Country
Task 2. Listening
You will watch a TV programme ‘Walking through History’ in which the presenter Tony Robinson visits Brontë Country.

a. Complete the table below with information from the video. If there is an N/A, leave blank:

Location / place

Expressions used to describe it Link to Brontë family

Object / sights explored by presenter

Thornton

small country village

Patrick Brontë worked as a curate there.

The birthplace of the Brontë siblings.

Plaque on the wall of the house where they were born

Fireplace in the house they were born (now literary cafe).

 

 

 

 

without trees

Toy soldiers in the Parsonage …

 

 

Haworth moor

 

 

dark moors

spectacular

harsh and powerful

rapidly expanding quagmire

Setting for Brontës’ novels.

The Brontës used to go there to compose their stories.

Sarah Gars’ diary

Charlotte’s letter

Top Withens

 

lonely ruin

an island of poor quality grass in a sea of heather

A picture of the 1872 edition of Wuthering Heights, showing the three farms: Top, Middle and Near Withens.

Alcomden Stones

 

untamed and mythical realm

‘soft wind breathing through the grass’

‘quiet earth’

Setting for Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

 

Edgar, Catherine and Heathcliff’s final resting place.

 

b. Discuss the following questions in groups:

    1. How important are the objects / texts that Tony Robinson brings with him on his walk? Do they change his experience of the walk? Do they help him understand the Brontës better? Why (not)?
    2. What objects / texts would you like to bring with you to our visit to the Parsonage tomorrow? Is there a particular aspect of the Brontës’ life or work that you would like to learn more about?

APPENDIX II: LESSON MATERIALS

Producing places: Whitby and tourism
Task 3. Dracula tourism: Critical analysis of Huovi (2010) and Light (2017)

a. ‘Thinking hats’ activity:
1. Each of you will be assigned a different colour ‘thinking hat’ and a set of questions.

  • White hats: Facts
  1. What facts about Dracula tourism are mentioned in the articles?
  2. What definitions have been provided in these articles?
  3. What examples and data can you find in the articles?
  4. Is there information that is missing?
  5. What further information do we need?
  • Green hats: Context
  1. What real-life examples of Dracula / dark tourism are you personally aware of? Provide some details.
  2. Have you participated in any form of Dracula/dark tourism? What was your emotional reaction to it?
  3. Would you do it again? Why (not)?
  4. Would you consider Whitby as participating in Dracula tourism? Why (not)? Provide reasons and examples for your point.
  • Yellow hats: Positives
  1. What are the benefits/potential opportunities of Dracula tourism?
  2. Who are the main beneficiaries?
  3. What have the tourist industry and authorities done to make the most of these benefits?
  4. Provide reasons for your points.
  • Black hats: Negatives
  1. What are the disadvantages/risks associated with Dracula tourism?
  2. Who do they affect the most?
  3. What have the tourist industry and authorities done to ameliorate the negative impact?
  4. Provide reasons for your points.

2. Working together with students who have the same colour ‘thinking hat’ as you, re-read the articles by Huovi (2010) and Light (2017) and address the questions above.

b. Change groups and sit together with different colour ‘thinking hats’. Discuss the questions below, making sure you refer to information you have discussed from the perspective of your ‘thinking hat’.

  1. What is ‘Dracula tourism’?
  2. How does Dracula tourism differ from ‘Gothic tourism’ and ‘fright tourism’? Provide some examples of each kind of tourism; you can refer to places from anywhere in the world.
  3. What instances of Dracula tourism did you observe in Whitby? Did you participate in any of the activities / experiences? Would you recommend any? Why (not)?
  4. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Dracula/dark tourism and its impact (economic, social, political) on places such as Whitby and Transylvania.