Walls of Words

Nicole Lobdell

Nicole Lobdell is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English in 19th-century British literature at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN.



Georgia Tech, English 1102: "Voices of the Industrial Revolution" (Fall 2014)

Young girl pulling a coal cart.

Young girl pulling a coal cart.

This course will examine Britain’s industrial revolution of the nineteenth century and the literary works that respond to it. We will develop a special focus on the role of children, questioning the status of childhood, children’s education, and child welfare laws at this time. We will begin by examining several foundational nonfiction works before moving onto the poetry and prose of the period (roughly 1830-1875). While reading literary texts including works such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Cry of the Children" and Dickens's Hard Times, students engage with contemporary responses to child labor including playing video games such as Sweatshop, a game produced with help from UK Charity Labour Behind the Label. The combination of literary texts and contemporary media help students engage in critical discussions and enhances the learning experience by bring an interactive focus to classroom conversations. Artifacts for this class may include a traditional college essay, a book cover redesign project, dramatization of a nineteenth-century personal narrative, research into child labor laws, and a podcast.

Below is a scene from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, where we can see the distinct transition from the pastoral to the industrial climate of England.

A child sweeper.

The image above and the image to the right are screen shots of the game Sweatshop, an interactive tower-defense game in which the play takes on the position of a sweatshop middle manager. The game is controversial in no small part because Apple refuses to carry it in their app store. Student play the game as part of the class because it brings to the forefront contemporary issues of industrialism, human rights, and working conditions around the world. Sweatshop is now available to play for free on its website Sweatshop.

Book Cover Redesign Project (below are book covers designed by English 1102 students Fall 2014. Click on images to enlarge. (All designs and images are copyrighted. Please do not reproduce, copy, or edit without written permission from the designer.)

Potential texts could include the following:

Related Links:

Exhibit on Child Labourers, The National Archives, UK

Below is a selection of the BBC program The Children Who Built Victorian Britain that aired on the BBC (the video has been reposted from YouTube).