This course will take place in person.
Our key themes are protest, parties, women, and housing. Within these broad subject areas, we’ll explore topics such as the rise of communism, hunger marches, cinema-going - and “voluntary poverty” in London’s East End.
Who is this course for?
- Informal learners seeking an accessible and engaging introduction to the social and political history of London between the wars
- Anyone curious to discover less-well-known London characters whose unique lives are documented in our archives
- Campaigners and activists seeking information on the ways in which Londoners have historically sought to make political gains
- Historians, designers, writers and others looking for inspiration for creative projects
- ‘Jazz Age’ enthusiasts keen to enjoy access to original items from the 1920s and 1930s
What can I expect?
- The subject is examined through hundreds of published and unpublished sources from Bishopsgate Institute’s library and special collections, many rare and some unique (e.g., letters, minute books, memoir, scrapbooks, press cuttings)
- Each week, the tutor provides an overview of the historical materials
- Questions and activity ideas provide focus and support the research process
- Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the sources, which have been arranged in curated sets to represent themes relevant to our ‘interwar London’ topic
- Students spend time with each set of materials, with the tutor on hand to give guidance and answer questions
- Handouts provide historical background and context
- Facilitated, informal group discussions offer a chance to share findings and reflections at the close of each session
- Short homework activities and suggested further reading lists provide opportunities for students to extend their learning between sessions, should they wish to do so.
Will I need any equipment or materials?
We will be looking at a range of texts produced during the past 120+ years, some of which have small print. Please bring reading glasses if worn.
How we’re keeping you safe
April 2022 update: Keeping you safe and healthy is our number one priority.
If you test positive for Covid-19 or are asked to isolate and are not able to attend your class or pre-booked event, please contact the Bishopsgate Box Office for further information (email@example.com). Please do not come to the Institute in person if you have symptoms or have tested positive.
Wearing a face mask is no longer compulsory but we ask you to consider others when in our building and especially when spending time in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. You will see many of our staff and volunteers continuing to wear face masks and we are keeping the perspex screens at our reception desks.
Bishopsgate Institute has strict cleaning protocols in place and ventilation throughout the building. There are hand-sanitising stations available throughout the building and touch-free drinking fountains. Find out more about how we’re keeping you safe.
We provide a number of funded bursaries to people who find it hard to pay the full or concessionary rates. Find out more information on how to apply.
Image: Wensley Family Archive
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You will learn
- How it felt to live, work and play in London between the wars through hands-on access to a range of sources produced during the period under scrutiny
- Information about grassroots and labourist political activism relating to topics such as housing, fascism and anti-fascism, pacifism, and pay and working conditions
- Case study histories of key individuals whose largely untold lives are represented in Bishopsgate Institute’s special collections
- The joys and challenges of reconstructing the past from primary source materials
- The types of historical materials held in our library and archive on the interwar city – and how you can access and use these for research purposes
Meet the Tutors
Dr Michelle Johansen
Dr Michelle Johansen is a social historian specialising in the history of modern London, with a particular emphasis on social class and mobility, gender, professional lives, and regional identities. Her publications include articles in Teaching History, the London Journal, and Cultural and Social History. Michelle has more than ten years' experience of delivering learning sessions at Bishopsgate Institute for all types of learners, from primary school pupils to undergraduates to informal adult learners. Her teaching approach places the emphasis on access to original historical documents, which provides a uniquely dynamic and immersive classroom experience.
Protest – we look at the rise of fascist and anti-fascist activity in interwar London, as well as examining specific campaigning flashpoints including strikes and hunger marches
Parties – from popular cinema-going to Society balls to Masonic dinners, we explore leisure activities across the social spectrum
Women – we focus on the experiences of a range of women whose lives are documented in our special collections, among them teachers, a housewife, a pacifist, office workers and a supermodel
Housing – in the wake of the ambitious 1918 promise to build ‘homes fit for heroes’, we examine efforts to effect change in the quality and quantity of housing available in the interwar city
Need to Know
- 18:30 - 20:00
- Bishopsgate Institute
- Dr Michelle Johansen
- Max Students
- No. of Sessions
- Course Code