Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Lockdown Lectures: Q&A With History Authors

Lockdown Lectures History

We hope everyone enjoyed our Facebook Live Q&A yesterday with Kris Lane, Matthew Restall and Merry Wiesner-Hanks! Thank you to everyone who submitted questions. It was great to hear about the authors’ teaching experiences and what motivated them to write their textbooks. They shared some useful advice on restructuring courses to teach online. They also discussed other teaching tips, the evolution of their field, and their experiences publishing their textbooks.

If you missed the event, you can watch the recording by clicking the link below:

Kris Lane, Merry Wiesner-Hanks, and Matthew Restall

During the session, Kris and Matthew explained what inspired them to write their textbook Latin America in Colonial Times, while Merry told us how her book Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe has evolved in the last forty years, across four editions, and how teaching the topic has changed over time.

When the conversation turned to lecturing in lockdown, one of Kris’s ideas involved creating 15 minute mini-lectures and uploading them to Canva to share with his students. The running time is due both to Canva’s file size limits and to Kris’s view that students have difficulty focusing for lengthy one-way video lectures. He also recommended getting students to watch related films and TV to inspire critique and discussion. Both Kris and Merry shared a list of suggested resources to support teachers, outlined below.

Merry took up the theme of using materials from outside the classroom and talked about her experiences teaching online before lockdown. In one example she gave her students a creative assignment that involved them visiting museum websites and then using what they had learned to design their own exhibitions. She also emphasized the importance of creating interactions among your students through online discussions and breakout room functionality to help them stay engaged.

The audience also had the opportunity to ask questions. When one person asked how to decide what to cut from a course, Matthew suggested that lecturers poll their students. He explained that he had done this previously on one of his own courses, and that it helped his students to feel ownership over their own learning.

Watch the full video by clicking the link above.

Kris’s List of Teaching Resources:


Kingdom, Empire & Plus Ultra Podcasts: HistoryHub.ie at UC Dublin, host Edward Collins

Archive of Early American Images at Brown U: https://jcb.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/JCB~1~1


I, the Worst of All (scandalous!)

Aguirre: The Wrath of God (great for studying masculinity run amok)

The Mission (best if the students can see also ‘the making of…’ film, called Omnibus)

Miniseries: Hernán (just started last fall, on Cortés)

Merry’s List of Resources for Online Learning:

Rosemary M. Lehman and Simone C. O. Conceiçao, Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching: How to “Be There” for Distance Learners (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010).

Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks and Urmi Engineer Willoughby, A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History. Series: Design Principles for Teaching History.Series Editor: Antoinette Burton. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.  See Chapter 7: “Incorporating Feminist Pedagogy as You Move Online: Feminist Principles in a Virtual World.”

The World History Association’s blog, Pandem-Mondus, has discussions of online learning: https://www.thewha.org/wha-blog/

The Sixteenth Century Journal will be hosting a group of short articles, “Teaching the Early Modern in the Era of Covid-19.”  This special Early Modern Classroom supplement will appear online at escj.org, open access,and articles will be posted as they become available, beginning in the summer of 2020. Submissions welcome to: wleeson@roanoke.edu or scj@roanoke.edu

Inside Higher Education’s Article: So You Want to Temporarily Teach Online

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