I chose the Writing Lives module, run by Helen Rogers at LJMU, as it offered a new and engaging way to assess our skills in research. The module provides a unique opportunity and platform to display our research in the form of blog posts, providing an interactive approach to both seminars and assessment.
At the beginning of the module we were provided with a list of working class auto-biographers, otherwise unwritten about, and had to pick an author. This initial task was difficult as there is such a wide variety of different authors from all backgrounds that the Burnett Archive provides. Eventually I picked an author, William Belcher. I was initially drawn to the autobiography of William Belcher due to the supporting documents that accompany the autobiography: his school certificates, shorthand qualifications and Naval career records. This gave the autobiography an extra layer of meaning and provided more insight into the life that Belcher lead.
After the first seminar I began to unravel Belcher’s life by working through his Untitled, hand written notes. This was difficult as the handwriting was often hard to read and to make sense of, however, I was able to read through it multiple times after the first read, highlighting and making notes along the way. His insights on the two subjects of faith and war set his Untitled memoirs apart from other working class autobiographers as they were unique in opinions and belief. I enjoyed searching through other historical archives to find any information I could about my author. Although this process provided little information of my author already online, it was still enjoyable to work my way through historical records.
The blogging experience of Writing Lives has allowed me to find a particular voice in my writing. Having never blogged before, I was used to the normal writing voice of the basic essay format. This module has provided me with the ability to change this voice to a more personal tone in order to attract a wider audience. This tool will be helpful in the future and allows me to further my writing abilities.
This module has introduced me to the WordPress platform which is an extremely helpful tool for future careers or the development of a personal blog, something I feel I now have the understanding and ability to do. The social media aspect of the module has helped my historical research and allowed me to understand the importance of online collaboration. This aspect has helped me find a wider audience to my blog posts and reach more people. The copy-editing aspect of the module and collaboration with other students was most enjoyable, and allowed me to appreciate the work of other students and effect upon my own work.
Overall, the Writing Lives collaborative research project has given me skills I can use in the future and I will take away some vital information regarding blogging, research and social media. The experience of writing about a life, otherwise unwritten of, has been both enjoyable and fascinating.