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FILM & HISTORY NEWS Teaching History With Film & Television The National Endowment for the Humanities has funded an American Historical Association project to study the use of film and television by historians! in their teaching and research. The project seeks to survey the "state of the art" of film and television usage and to move toward the synthesis a methodology for analysing such materials as historical artifacts. Those who have made regular or extensive use of film and/or television in their teaching of history, social sciences or related fields are requested to share their experiences so that the project analysis can be as comprehensive as possible. This is important especially for those who have developed innovative approaches audiovisual teaching or unique curriculum materials (study guides, discussion formats, class projects, etc.). As its title suggests, "The Historian and the Moving-Image Media: Developing a Synthesis for Research and Teaching in History," proposes that acholare recognize the natural affiniity between traditional historical scholarship and the study of the cinema and television. Its goals are (1) to improve the teaching of history, social studies, and film/communications history classes by encouraging the more effective use of film and video materials, (2) to combine the teaching of historical methodology and logical thinking with training in the the basic elements of "visual literacy," and (3) to sensitize historians, history teachers and eventually the public to the ways in which commercially produced films and television programs, however unintentionally, often abuse history and misrepresent the work of the professional historian. 47 The project will result in a published book of essays, ß new and updated edition of the AHA pamphlet Teaching History With Film, and a program of in-service courses to be offered to history teachers in their own schools and colleges across the country. By bringing together and refining the elements of a methodology for the study of film or television materials in the traditional manner of historical artifacts (either in place of or in addition to other frameworks for analysis such as Freudean, Marxist, or semiotic criticism) the project seeks to encourage the history researcher to more fully plumb the meaning of sources available to them. In addition, the project stresses the role of the historian as visual educator. In secondary schools and in colleges (especially those which retain history as part of their general education requirements) historians are entrusted to teach the values and skills necessary for responsible citizenship. Thirty years ago this meant teaching students to question what they read in the newspaper. Today, as this project will establish, for example, through reference to television news and political campaign commercials as historical documents, we must at least introduce students to a similar analytical skepticism (the first step toward informed comprehension) about what they see in films or on TV." Those willing to share their experiences or teaching materials towards the fullfillment of this AHA project are assured full recognition for their contributions. Contact project director John E. O'Connor, Department of Humanités, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey 07102. ...


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pp. 47-48
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