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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Mary Orr receives a 2009 VC Teaching award

Published: 7 January 2010
Mary Orr teaching

Professor Mary Orr has won a 2009 VC Teaching award for her innovative approach to teaching and learning.

Professor Mary Orr won her award for bringing her ground-breaking specialist research (on the French literary representations of the history of 19th-century natural science) into her final year undergraduate ‘Flaubert’s France’ course by designing an electronic visualisation tool to enable her students to explore it.

Mary had been looking for some time for a way to teach Flaubert’s pivotal but largely unknown work, La Tentation de Saint Antoine, which has always been regarded as too difficult and erudite to teach to undergraduate students. While writing the first monograph on this text to explain its imaginative representations of science, she realised the potential of IT to link the ideas, analogies and timelines presented in her book as the way to teach it.

A grant won from the University’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit made her idea possible, and she embarked on the project with Dr Mark Weal of the School of Electronic and Computer Science to develop the (open access) electronic visualisation tool Electronic Visualisation of 19th-century French literary-scientific texts: Flaubert's Tentation de saint Antoine. Students read and explore the hyperlinked text interactively by accessing images, glossaries, time lines and an ontology in response to ‘pop up’ prompts at relevant points, which guide paths of enquiry or suggest what to look for in the text.

Mary is one of the University’s three nominees for a National Teaching Fellowship award in 2010.

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