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YouTube animation hit for Kent historian

An innovative project by a Professor of Roman History and Archaeology at the University of Kent has not only brought history to life through animation but has also received over 104,000 views on YouTube.

The unique video, written and narrated by Professor Ray Laurence from the University’s School of European Culture and Languages, explains the life of a 17 year old Roman youth. The six minute animation describes the life of this particular Roman teenager from two thousand years ago. It explains family relations, arranged marriages, coming-of-age festivals and communal baths, as well as the role of time in scheduling urban activities.

The aim of the video is to use the familiar awareness of the modern family to highlight major differences between Roman culture of the past and modern-day life. It is also designed to engage a wider adult audience with history. Typically, schools and museums reach the 11-18 and 55+ age groups, however adults between 25 and 55 are significantly harder to engage. The animation has so far proven particularly popular with this group of people.

The video also links directly to Professor Laurence’s research on the Roman family in the city, developed over the last two years at the University of Kent.

Produced in partnership with Folkestone-based animation studio, Cognitive Media, the video is the first in a planned series about Roman culture. Other scripts in development include a sequence based on the life of a 7 year old girl, and the world of the poor.

Professor Laurence said: ‘Animation allows so much more information to be imparted than by a podcast or talking head and studies show that more information is also remembered. Similarly, the audience for animation is quite different from that which can be regularly reached via schools. The demographic of the animation’s current views on YouTube shows engagement with the 25-55 adult age group – even though we have found when testing the video in schools that it also appeals to a younger age range.’

Professor Karl Leydecker, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Kent, said: ‘Ray Laurence's project is an excellent example not only of the imaginative ways in which the Faculty seeks to ensure that its outstanding research reaches a wide audience, but also our strategy of building partnerships with innovative private sector companies in the region.’

The video is also part of a wider educational initiative called TED-Ed which seeks to create innovative lesson resources to be shared with other educators on its dedicated online video platform.

Ray Laurence is Professor of Roman History and Archaeology in the department of Classical and Archaeological Studies at the University of Kent. He is also the Chair of the Canterbury Heritage Partnership and has published extensively on Roman history and culture. Visit here for more information.

To view the animation, click here.


Story published at 3:58pm 6 December 2012

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Last Updated: 23/05/2013