Democratising the Classics with Cabinet

Making Classical literature and culture accessible

The literature and culture of the long eighteenth century is steeped in the legacy of Greece and Rome. English literature students, however, tend to see the Classics as dull, intimidating or elitist, because they lack direct experience of Latin and Greek and don't have direct access to museum artefacts.

It is exactly the objects reflecting Ancient influences that spark students' interest and increase engagement, Christine Gerrard, Professor of English Literature, Lady Margaret Hall, found. Limited staff capacities and the dangers of wear and tear restrict the number of students handling objects during museum visits, so she found an alternative way: Cabinet, a tool giving students access to 3D models of artefacts. Prof Gerrard curated objects from the Ashmolean, mainly its archive, which were then digitised. She carefully annotated the 3D models in Cabinet,  shared them with around 280 students and efficiently used them during lectures.

Prof Gerrard has enriched her students' experience in an exciting interdisciplinary way, making lectures a more interactive and stimulating environment. Attendance at her lectures has been consistently high and student feedback extremely positive.

Gerrard is fantastic at tying literature into historical context, particularly in terms of material culture - bringing in relevant objects from Cabinet that helped contextualise the texts we discussed.

English literature student taking Prof Gerrard's course.

A screenshot of Professor Christine Gerrard's course Democratising the Classics Week 2

Students found it very helpful that Prof Gerrard made visual content available on Cabinet for further exploration. 

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