What to say?

February 23, 2004

I am finishing up the lesson plan for the first of two classes on the First Industrial Revolution. The second class, Working Men/Working Women, will examine life in the mills, the way that industrialization changed the gendered division of labor in Europe, and the creation of working class identity and working class culture. Today's class will be the broad overview of the years between 1750 and 1850 and the combination of technologies and markets.

But, I don't quite know how to frame and present the class. I find myself wanting to make a literary move, framing it in terms of William Blake's "dark satanic mills" or Tolkein's nostalgia for an imagined rural past in the Scouring of the Shire. I suspect that this means that I should give a straightforward lecture on machines and markets, railroads and Adam Smith.

I love history, but the thing I struggle with is how best to frame a story to make it new, interesting, and useful.

EDIT - much better, as usual blogging about a difficulty helped me see the answer. Tolkein is out, as is the debate about the good and bad of industrialization. Instead Adam Smith and the classical economists are showing up to close the lecture. Good lads. Soundtrack for the class in the extended entry.

As I was thinking about class over breakfast I had the lyrics to Byker Hill get stuck in my head. I dug out the Young Tradition and played it. Theirs is a much more, well, traditional recording than the other one I have, by Boiled in Lead.

Byker Hill

If I had another penny
I would buy another gill
I would make the piper play
The Bonny lads of Byker Hill.

Byker Hill and Walker Shore
Collier lads for evermore.

2. The pitman and the girls are trim
They drink bumble made from gin
Then to dance they do begin
To the tune of Elsie Marley.

3. When first I went unto the dirt
I had no coat or no pit shirt
Now Iíve gotten two or three
Walker Pitís done well by me.

4. Geordie Johnson he had a pig
He hit with a shovel and it danced a jig
All the way to Walker Shore
To the tune of Elsie Marley.

Posted by Red Ted at February 23, 2004 09:59 AM | TrackBack