The College Module - Who's Missing from Wolf Hall

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By Katherine He (College Module by Dr. Andy Burn)

On last Wednesday evening, Dr. Andy Burn gave an amazing talk started from the award-winning television series “Wolf Hall” to the history of English working class. He raised the question, “Who is missing from the Wolf Hall?”; the answer is 99.5% of the population at the time being. 

The TV series Wolf Hall was centered around the Tudor dynasty and the Henry VIII of England. Besides Wolf Hall, the historical image we receive on the screens tend to focus on the royal family, meanwhile, the labourer, paupers as well as the middle class were not much put on the fancy big screens. Throughout the discussion, Dr. Andy Burn presented how to research this “missing” 99.5% through marriage and burial, popular texts, pictures, censuses as well as their trips to the courts. What particularly interested me were the popular texts and the tenants of Edward Thompson in 1641. The experiences concentrated in the verses and popular texts gave me a brief idea of the social context and cultural preference of the time being, which I was not getting enough exposure from in the current popular culture. 

The English identity is complex, dynamic and it is continuously accumulating. It has the image of the King, the Queen, and the normal. Working class of the time being has an ordinary life just like most of the people in the world. The College Module talk is interesting in the way that you get to think about something that other people have dedicated themselves to and discover it from a whole new perspective. Using the historical past as an agency, we can learn about people’s motivation, prosperity and eventually ourselves.


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