There are three great reasons I have and hope to share with others for enjoying teaching for ASE at Bath.
First and foremost the subjects I cover are amongst the most interesting in History. The Tudors and Stuarts are endlessly fascinating, exciting attention on stage, screen, novel and TV series, from Shakespeare to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, peopled by some of the most famous names in all of History: Richard III, Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Charles I and Cromwell. And not just rulers but also artists, writers and intellectuals: Holbein, Thomas More, Christopher Marlowe, Van Dyck, Newton and Aphra Behn. Similarly my course on ‘Women and Society in the Eighteenth century’ is remarkable for the galaxy of female talent to which the century gave a voice. Not for nothing is one of the books we use called ‘Brilliant Women’, as educational opportunities and a new cultural world of fashionable society, theatre and the rise of the novel produced a string of famous women writers, actresses, and society figures. By its end, Mary Wollstonecraft was making the first claims for the Rights of Women, pioneering what today we call feminism.
Second, Bath is an incomparable setting to explore these periods of history from its magnificent Abbey, a monument to the changes brought by the Reformation, to the very Pump Room, North and South Parade and Assembly Rooms where eighteenth century fashionable society and many of the people we discuss socialized. Nearby the magnificent Tudor mansion of Montecute House and the great house of Dyrham Park provide us with real examples of the worlds of the past.
Finally, ASE means its students, almost invariably keen to take on new things, often almost from scratch, and willing to explore for themselves the riches on offer in the ASE library, Bath and much, much further afield.