Undergraduate student researcher Ryan Bramley from the School of English shares his plans for working on this project which is supported by the Engaged Curriculum Funding Stream.
The ‘Filmmaking and The Engaged Curriculum’ project was originally inspired by a personal interest of mine in the social history of Barnsley, my hometown. As a relatively small town in South Yorkshire that had, like many other northern regions, suffered as a consequence of post-industrialism, I was particularly interested in the resilience of my local community through periods of hardship in recent years. In this regard, one event in particular stands out as a talking point that, even today, surpasses all others in its controversy: the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. Thirty years on, the ‘sense of community’ that is said to have existed then is something that is spoken of rather nostalgically back home today, especially by the older generations who lived through it and witnessed its effects – the same is rarely said of today. I wanted to discover the extent to which the perceived zeitgeist of social togetherness actually existed during this period, and determine whether it survived the aftermath of the notorious strike – or was destroyed by it.
With the supervision and guidance of Dr David Forrest and Professor Brendan Stone, this stimulus was transformed into a creative practice-as-research project, with its roots firmly ingrained in ‘Storying Sheffield’ – a second-year English module run jointly by the two aforementioned academic supervisors. Through my recent study of this course, I developed both an understanding of, and interest in, the important use of personal narratives as a method of understanding space, place and community. This recognition will be applied to the creation of a short, documentary-style film, collating audio and audio-visual representations of these accounts with both archive and contemporary footage of the Barnsley area. This creative medium allows the research to be influenced by the personal narratives and my verbal interaction with them, which in turn will influence the style and production of the film. This bilateral engagement allows a broader understanding of contemporary subject matter, as opposed to being limited by my own interpretation of static, written sources.
‘Filmmaking and The Engaged Curriculum’ aims to promote the use of creative practice-as-research as an academic approach that can contribute towards a more comprehensive learning experience. This alternative study technique, if used properly, can provide an enlightening accompaniment to the more traditional methods of degree-level study, furthering the learner’s academic enrichment in higher education. I will be reflecting on my learning experience throughout the course of the project via an online blog (https://sites.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/filmmaking-and-the-engaged-curriculum/intro), documenting the advantages and disadvantages that I encounter. It is anticipated that this information could be used to inform and advise future students and practitioners on how creative practice-as-research can be used suitably to accomplish these aims.
This project is supported by the Engaged Curriculum Fund, and is led by Dr Dave Forrest and Professor Brendan Stone.