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How to Use Film in the Classroom

Online Workshop
June 23, 2023

View the workshop recording and handout (AJS member login required)


Drawing by Felix Kiner.

The need for effectively incorporating film into the curriculum is real and growing: our students increasingly live in a mediated environment and are profoundly engaged with images and visual media. What they need to learn, however, is media literacy. Using film in our pedagogy can help us to communicate to students, and, more importantly, teach them to think critically about the content they are absorbing, modes of representation, and the medium itself. It will make them better scholars and better citizens.

This professional development workshop will focus on using film and media in the classroom. Straddling the areas of pedagogy and digital humanities, it’s intended for colleagues across disciplines, including history, sociology, religious studies, and other fields beyond film and literature. Working interactively, we’ll learn how to think about film in the classroom, how to find appropriate content, how to incorporate it into one’s curriculum, and how to facilitate discussion. We’ll cover approaches to using fiction vs documentary films, including full films vs excerpts, selecting and producing film clips, and designing film-based assignments. Our discussion will range from conceptual approaches to hands-on “know-how.”

In preparation to the workshop, please rewatch the following films, which we will use as examples: Schindler’s List (1993) and Hester Street (1975). Additional short films and clips will be screened during the workshop.

Please note: Participants will need access to Google Docs and Google Slides.

About the Presenter:

Olga Gershenson

Olga Gershenson is Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and of Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a multi-disciplinary scholar with interests at the intersection of culture, history, and film. At the AJS, she is chair of the Jews, Film, and the Arts Division, a member of the Film Committee, and editor of the “Teaching with Film and Media” column in AJS Perspectives. She has been teaching Jewish history and culture using film for nearly twenty years. In addition to her home institution, she has taught internationally, including in Israel, China, India, Russia, and the UAE.