Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Record Revolutions: a Cultural History of Record Keeping
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay (2000words)  40%
Semester Assessment Essay (3000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Essay (2000 words)  Submission of supplementary coursework for failed course elements in line with the learning outcomes of the original assignments  40%
Supplementary Assessment Essay (3,000 words)  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

*Identify different types of records and discuss their specific historical contexts

* Discuss the distinctive characteristics of record keeping practice within specific historical contexts

  • Critically evaluate how record keeping is affected by cultural, social, political, and economic environments in which it is situated

* Critically assess the impact of technology on record keeping practice and culture

*Identify, and critically engage with, a range of secondary materials (articles, books, web-based resources) on the historical development of record keeping

Brief description

This module explores the history and development of record keeping and why societies capture information in recorded form. This wide-ranging survey module begins with an examination of `record keeping? in pre-script societies, and explores the history of record keeping through a series of `revolutions? ? the development of alphabetic script, the rise of the scribe and manuscript culture, print culture, record-keeping consciousness, two twentieth-century record keeping explosions (WWI and WWII), and the rise of the digital record.


Session 1: An introduction to record keeping: Record Keeping in pre-script societies
This session introduces students to the concept of record keeping, taking account of what we mean by the term, which may be variously defined as `records?,? archives?, `manuscripts?, and `information? It encourages students to consider the nature of the written record in relation to other forms of `non-script? forms of record, such as oral tradition and pictograms and explore why and how early societies used different forms of `record keeping? to mark time and collective memory.

Session 2: The first records Professionals? Ancient Record Keeping
This session introduces students to a variety of record-keeping practices in ancient societies, tracing how the development of alphabetic scripts, coupled with great social, political, and economic activity, aided and necessitated record keeping.

Session 3: Classical Record Keeping: The Greeks and the Romans
In this session we will explore the practices of the Greeks and the Romans, both of whom had a strongly developed sense of record keeping. We will explore the Greek Arkhe, from which we derive the word `archive?, and the role of the Archon, and the need for the expanding Roman Empire to develop records offices throughout to deal with the ever increasing bureaucracy.

Session 4: Medieval record keeping: The growth of bureaucracy
This session explores the development of record keeping in the medieval period with a particular focus upon the major record generating bodies of church and state. We will ask who was creating records, why, and what records they were creating.

Session 5: Travels in the scriptorium: The world of the scribe
Understanding medieval manuscript culture necessitates an understanding of the scribes and processes that created them. Following on from the previous session, we will explore the world of the scriptorium, focusing upon the materials and practices of the medieval scribe.

Session 6: Guttenberg'r revolution: The development of print culture
What impact did the development of the printing press have on record keeping? In this session, we debate the issues around literacy, the printing press, and record keeping, assessing the importance of the development of print culture and its impact on manuscript culture.

Session 7: The rise of record consciousness: The age of the antiquarian
The sixteenth century witnessed an increase in record-keeping consciousness outside of those responsible for the creation of records, driven by the dissolution of the monasteries and the desire to document the past. Exploring the growth of antiquarianism and the impact of the enlightenment, this session focuses upon the growing interest in record collection and curation, rather than just creation.

Session 8: The rise of record consciousness: The age of the archive
Record keeping in the nineteenth century is characterised by the development of archive services. Building on the antiquarian movement, which raised awareness of record collection, the nineteenth century sees the establishment of the Public Record Office and Historical Manuscripts Commission, and lays the foundation for the county record office network established in the early twentieth century.

Session 9: The information Explosion: The age of the digital record
The twentieth century has witnessed two information explosions, the first an administrative result of two World Wars, the second a result of the impact of information technology on record keeping bodies. Records are now being produced on an unprecedented scale in formats potentially less stable than their earlier counterparts. In this session we will explore the impact of these events on record keeping culture.

Session 10: The Information Explosion: Record keeping in a post-everything age
This final session explores what it means to be a record keeper in the 21st century. Postmodernism has encouraged the questioning of the `truth? of the record. What implications does this h

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Oral skills through seminar contributions and presentations Written skills through essay submissions
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing confidence in oral discussion and debate through seminar contribution and presentations Developing confidence in written work and responding to previous feedback
Information Technology Through the word processing of assignments
Personal Development and Career planning Wider appreciation of record keeping culture for those planning to work in archive/library/record environments
Problem solving Through critical interpretation of essay questions
Research skills Through identification of appropriate secondary reading Through critical analysis of and engagement with secondary reading
Subject Specific Skills
Team work N/A


This module is at CQFW Level 6