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Archive for September, 2019

Teaching medieval history in Baghdad and Sheffield

Nahrein Network24 September 2019

Professor Maher Al-Helli is an expert in medieval history at Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad. Throughout April and May 2019 he held a Nahrein-BISI Visiting Scholarship in the History Department at the University of Sheffield. We are enormously grateful to our colleagues in the Sheffield History Department for making him so warmly welcome.

Here Professor Maher writes for us about his experiences.

Developing university teaching skills for the effective study of medieval history: The subject of history and cultural heritage as a model

Prof Maher Al-Helli with Sheffield University colleagues Prof Martial Staub, Dr Danica Summerlin and Dr Casey Strine, as well as the Nahrein Network’s director, Prof Eleanor Robson

I spent a lot of time at Sheffield University, where I met with Prof. Martial Staub, my supervisor in the History Department. I got many ideas from him through his assistance to me in teaching the Middle Ages to the History Department’s student. We exchanged information about the ways and means of developing skills in university education.

  • I attended a lot of Prof. Martial’s lectures, in topics such as Empires – Crusades, the Holy Roman Empire, the Social and Political History of Iberia and Latin America, Internal Crusades, Black Sea Empires, Ethnicity and Empire and Peace of Religion.
  • Also, I attended many lectures with professors such as Social and Political History of Iberia and Latin America – Islamic Spain (Prof. Phil Swanson), War of the Roses (Dr. Elizabeth Goodwin) and How Involuntary Migration Created Ancient Israel ( Dr. Casey Strine).
  • I got great benefit from Sheffield University Library, where I found many English-language history books near to my speciality. I collected a lot of paper and electronic
  • I attended a lot of seminars in Islamic and medieval history.
  • I gave a lecture to the students in the history department under the title: Ancient and medieval history of Iraq.
  • I did a course in English language and I got a certificate of participation from The English Language Teaching Center and Learn for Life/Enterprise.
  • I wrote an article in the Arabic language about new ways and means of developing skills in university education.
  • I worked on translating the book by Hugh Kennedy: Muslim Spain and Portugal: A political history of al-Andalus (1996) and I will complete it soon.
  • I formulated a joint project between Mustansiriyah University and Sheffield University to hold an academic conference in Baghdad next year, 2020.

I also visited London city 20th-31st May, where I saw the most important collection of archeology and heritage in the British Museum and found some rare books in The British Library.

  • I also met Prof. Kennedy at SOAS and visited The Nahrein Network at University College London.
  • I visited a lot of museums in London such as the National History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • In the end of the research trip, I visited The British Institute for the Study of Iraq at the British Academy and discussed possible future programmes of collaboration.

I am happy to have visited the United Kingdom because I gained great professional benefit from the experience. I hope to I visit the UK again soon, for a longer time.