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Thursday, 22 April 2004. Our first lecture in this module was given by Shirley Jordan. We were introduced to the topics of popular culture and researching Europe. Before we had this lecture we were sent an email telling students to collect two articles from outside Shirley Jordan’s office. Although these two articles were not discussed in depth during this first session we were reminded that we should have read them which proved very useful for the following weeks lecture.

The lecture content was explained to us during this initial introductory lecture, the lectures were to be two weeks on the topic of popular culture, two weeks on defining Europe and one week to practice and rehearse our presentations. The planning dossier was also explained, that it should show our response to process of thinking, a preliminary mapping out of our paper and that it should have three entries. It should also include the primary and secondary materials that we had found for our presentation.

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The group was split into two halves for the conference and a volunteer was requested from each group to introduce the conference. Initially there was a great silence at this point, I offered myself to do this introduction for Group B, after this there followed quite rapidly a volunteer for the first Group of Presenters, group A. During this lecture Thematic approaches were introduced to us. This demonstrated a higher level of working out what exactly and how you arrive at the topic that you would wish to develop for use as a paper to give at a seminar/conference.

Firstly, we had to list all the different kinds of ways that we had been thinking about European issues. We were told to make sure that they were coherent and well worded. Next we had to break this down into what would be good for a conference and of interest to others as a potential conference project. The next stage we had to carry out was to select three topics and to break them down into subheadings; issues that could be discussed The final stage of this thematic approach was to arrive at a single topic to make a preliminary framework and settle upon points that would be raised. In addition we were told to think about how to present this.

This first week left me with many things to write, think and address for this planning dossier. Initially we were three students who planned to make a combined presentation. My first thoughts were to speak about Spain, and its role within Europe. I was going to look at it as belonging to a collection of countries which have a common goal as a trading block against the North American and Asian markets. The areas I was going to look at were currency, trade, governance, Defence, media and Identity.

Then whilst trying to break the topics down I came to these topics, a lack of a common language, issues of culture, the euro currency, a European army and trade embargoes. Other issues that I thought about were the lack of a common language in Europe, how the English language is dominant as it is the language of science and research. From thinking about these issues in the lecture amongst my peers we put together an initial outline for a paper. This was then discussed amongst the lecture group who gave feedback on what were good and bad features of the proposal and where it should be changed or reconsidered.

Having thought about our first thought of doing a combined presentation we realised that if the three of us were to do this then we would be repeating the explanations of what is a stereo type for example for the three countries, as well as the other points that we were going to address. On reflection we realised that this would not only bore the listener but it would be a monotonous exercise. This left me with going back to the drawing board to reconsider another idea. The seeds had been sown for how to go about carrying out a proposal at this stage.

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