The blog of the Royal Historical Society

Dr Emma Vickers is Senior Lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University. Her first book, Queen and Country: Same Sex Desire in the British Armed Forces, 1939-1945 (Manchester, 2013) explores the intersection between same-sex desire and service in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War. She is a member of the Oral History Society LGBTQ special interest group, and is in advanced clinical training in psychotherapy. In 2015 she was an academic advisor for the National Festival of LGBT History.

In terms of the accessibility of my subjects, I choose the most interesting themes and topics and do my best to make links to contemporary society. I don’t ask students to discuss their motivations for joining my modules (I’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t work) and I share my identity from the outset. In terms of the nuts and bolts of my teaching, I mobilise all kinds of methodologies, and I’m a huge fan of kinaesthetic learning, which emphasises the importance of hands-on, active or practical experiences in establishing deep learning.

I get students to create small podcasts and create tweets and Tinder profiles (for the novelist and poet Radclyffe Hall for example), build scenarios with Lego and generally do all that I can to make my teaching memorable. I use a lot of primary sources, which I think is key and I have also given students control over their seminars in the past. For my level 6 module I take my students to the National Archives to do research on a queer theme. It’s only then that they actually realise what it feels like to be a historian of sexuality. 

I’m siloed a little bit in that I teach a level 6 course called Queer Britain which is entirely LGBTQ British History. The numbers range from 20 to 6 this academic year. When I first began teaching the course, it was the first undergraduate module on British queer history in the UK. I’m tremendously proud of that. Unfortunately there isn’t really a ‘feed through’ module that would allow my students to get a taster of LGBTQ history before they opt for my level 6 module (3rd year undergraduate). I know, however, that I would be supported if I wanted to develop such a module.

In the team teaching that I do, I am responsible for lectures on sexuality and gender and I tend to shoe horn LGBTQ content in whenever I can. A colleague of mine includes some LGBTQ content in her second year module but I’m not aware if other colleagues do the same. I am so lucky to be in the position that I’m in. The programme leader is a wonderful cheerleader and there has never been any question about my level 6 course not running because of small numbers.

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