Academic input on the Storying Sheffield course is focused around several broad themes which feed into and inform the development of narrative artefacts by participants. These themes include:
- C20th British culture, with specific reference to Sheffield/ S. Yorks
- Understanding narrative
- Theories and practices of representation
- Memory and identity
- The sociology of objects
- The contemporary city
- Creative writing: prose, poetry
- Digital media & ICT
Participants on the course receive teaching and training in areas such as: the production of autobiography using photography, video, text, art, etc.; the history of the imagination; memory mapping; film and Sheffield; the social significance of objects; creative writing; the use of technology and software.
Staff delivering the course include academics from the School of English and other departments; experts in digital media; artists and writers. Short course students hold University student status, and have access to all University facilities and resources.
In the first half of the course, workshops comprise a more formal lecture/ seminar on one of the themes above, followed by practical activities in which the ideas from the session are put into practice. As an example, Prof Joan Beal leads a session on maps in which she first speaks about the history and politics of mapping, and then leads a mapping exercise, in which groups of students produce and analyse their own maps of Sheffield. Students are helped to understand how maps are a form of narrative, and represent a particular narrative perspective.
In the second half of the course, workshops are practical and ‘hands-on’. Mixed teams of participants work together on producing narrative artefacts using a wide range of media and techniques. Narratives are focused on everyday city life, with teams encouraged to use the ideas from the academic sessons to inform their work.
In addition to academic sessions, short-course students attend workshops at which they learn about possiblities for further study, both in the University and elsewhere. Follow-up meetings are held after the course has ended, and some participants opt to continue meeting regularly in a less formal way. Participants maintain contact with staff after the course ends, and are able to access University resources. Participants who have taken the Storying Sheffield course often choose to continue in education, including enrolling on degree programmes, and have also gone on to undertake volunteering and employment, often after many years unemployment.