History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY6992 - Monuments and History (2006)
Unit Coordinator: Professor Robert Aldrich
This honours/postgraduate unit of study (cross-listed with Museum Studies) was taught for the first time in 2006, and linked with the lecturer’s own research (including his 2005 book Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Monuments, Museums, and Colonial Memories).
The unit achieved an immensely rewarding result of 4.53 (out of a maximum of 5) to the USE survey question on overall satisfaction with the course. Indeed, the unit scored very high in almost all of the questions: 4.27 on the clearness of the learning outcomes, 4.53 on how the unit had helped students learn effectively, 4.43 on the relevance of the unit to a degree, 4.40 on the responsiveness of the staff, 4.64 on the value of group work/discussions, 4.43 on encouragement to thinking beyond the course material.
The unit, taught as a seminar, explored ‘sites of memory’ – such as war memorials, monuments and statues – with examples drawn primarily from Europe, Asia and Australia. Particular types of monuments discussed included First World War memorials, Holocaust memorials and colonial monuments. The course also examined the theories of Maurice Halbwachs, Pierre Nora and Paul Ricoeur (among others) concerning history and memory.
One part of the course involved each student writing an analytical ‘guide’ to a particular site of memory in Sydney, using primary documentation when possible; after comments from the lecturer and revision, the final versions of these papers - which treated sites ranging from the ornamental gate in Chinatown to the Bondi Surf Livesaving Club, from the obelisk in Hyde Park to the old Marrickville Town Hall - were copied, bound and given to students as a souvenir of the course. Students also wrote a major research essay on a different monument or type of commemoration.
This unit of study will be offered again in Semester 2, 2008.