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Public invited to explore disability history at interactive workshop

As part of the Being Human Festival, Senior Lecturer in Disability & Education Dr Owen Barden is hosting an interactive workshop ‘Antonia’s Story: A Secret History’ with The Brain Charity.

Archives contain many secrets, waiting to be discovered. Yet accessing archives can be difficult. In this workshop, co-led by researchers with learning disabilities, you will find out how the story of Antonia Grandoni was discovered, a lady who lived with a learning disability 150 years ago.

You will be able to see and try out the methods used to explore and analyse findings from a digital archive of very old medical books, and what this can tell us about living with a learning disability then and now.

The workshop is based on the findings of an ongoing research project led by Dr Barden and Dr Steve Walden from the University of South Wales. Two teams of researchers have been using digitised archive material to explore histories and stories of people labelled with learning difficulties. The teams are made up of academic researchers, as well as people with learning difficulties and their families and advocates. One team is based in Liverpool, and the other in Pontypridd. The project is funded by a Digital Research in the Humanities Grant from the British Academy and JISC.

Both teams have been analysing a digitised version of a very old medical textbook in the UK Medical Heritage Library. The book is called On Idiocy and Imbecility. It was written in 1877 by Dr William Ireland.  In the analysis, the researchers focus on the story of Antonia Grandoni, an ‘idiot’ who lived in an institution in Milan, Italy, for many years. They use Antonia’s story as a starting point to tell their own histories and stories of the lived experience of learning difficulties.

This free public workshop aims to show how researching history can be inclusive, creative and fun.

Friday 15th November, 10am - 4pm, The Brain Charity, Liverpool 

No booking required.


Published on 23/10/2019