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Ian Wojcik-Andrews

Films for young audiences today, particularly those deemed multicultural such as Whale Rider or Up, combine two journeys or quests, those of an elderly person and those of a young child. These films and others, such as The Secret of Roan Inish, represent a new genre called Kid Quests. This article examines the history, defining features, and cultural worth of kid quests and discusses their value and relevance to topics current in diversity studies such as age.

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Introduction

New Perspectives in Children's Film Studies

Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer

The study of children’s films is a complex and demanding issue, involving a range of critical, educational, psychological, cultural, institutional, and textual aspects. “Children’s films” can be a broad and ambiguous term; there are films aimed at children, films about childhood, and films children watch regardless of whether they are children’s films or films targeted toward adults. The rise of an expanding children’s film industry (including the accompanying merchandizing products) in the United States and many European countries presents a further challenge to the study of children’s films. In some countries, children’s films are included in the general school curriculum; this indicates that children’s films are a key part of children’s culture that requires educational attention. Another fact to which the inclusion of children’s films in school curricula points is the crucial role of these films in the development of media literacy, due to the fact that children come to recognize and understand the typical features of films by means of a gradual process which takes a substantial amount of time. The acquisition of a “film language” presupposes the ability to comprehend the symbolic meanings of images, the close relationship, upon which films depend, between a moving image, sound, and speech, and prototypical properties of films, such as shots, zooms, cuts, camera perspective, and voice-over.

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Learning with Disney

Children's Animation and the Politics of Innocence

David Whitley

This article reconsiders the concept of innocence in relation to animated films for children, focusing particularly on Disney but additionally drawing on examples from other traditions. The author argues that the notion of innocence within these films is potentially double-edged, encompassing both actively transformative and more vulnerable, passive properties. Children's animation is not simply culturally conservative, however, but also rehearses other possibilities, often in a playful form. The article suggests that what children learn from Disney and other animated films is shaped in complex ways by responses to the quality of innocence with which such films are so often imbued.

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The Lost Thing

Moving Media Language from a Picture Book to a Short Film

Johanna Tydecks

The transformation of a picture book into a film is a special case of film adaptation because this process involves inherently intermedial qualities. In media literacy terms, when viewers look at a picture book that has been made into a film, they familiarize themselves with the story's imagery and plot, which makes it easier for them to comprehend the techniques employed by the film to create meaning. The Oscar-winning short film The Lost Thing is exemplary of this, as it narrates the same story as the original picture book, dealing with social as well as existential issues. This comparative analysis focuses on the two di erent narrations of this story with regard to the literacy skills required to comprehend them.

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Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer

This article demonstrates, on the basis of recent research in film studies and media literacy, that filmic paratexts play a significant role in contemporary children's films. It shows that paratexts effectively comment on feature films by, for example, anticipating the film's plot and characters in the opening credits, and by pursuing the film plot in the end titles. Thorough analysis of children's films reveals that paratexts stimulate the child viewer to develop a competency that might be characterized as “meta-filmic awareness”, which is the capacity to distinguish between different levels of plot, communication, or complexity within a film. In keeping with these findings, this article represents an exploration of what we might call a meta-critical approach toward children's films.

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Problematic Portrayals and Contentious Content

Representations of the Holocaust in English History Textbooks

Stuart Foster and Adrian Burgess

This article reports on a study about the ways in which the Holocaust is portrayed in four school history textbooks in England. It offers detailed analysis and critical insights into the content of these textbooks, which are commonly used to support the teaching of this compulsory aspect of the history National Curriculum to pupils aged eleven to fourteen. The study draws on a recent national report based on the responses of more than 2,000 teachers and explicitly uses the education guidelines of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as a benchmark against which to evaluate the textbook content. It identifies a number of potentially alarming findings of which two themes predominate: a common tendency for textbooks to present an “Auschwitz-centric,” “perpetrator narrative” and a widespread failure to sensitively present Jewish life and agency before, during, and after the war. Ultimately, the article calls for the improvement of textbook content, but equally recognizes the need for teachers to be knowledgeable, judicious, and critical when using textbooks in their classrooms.

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Daniel Tröhler

This article investigates the development of new teaching ideologies in the context of the technocratic ideology of the Cold War. These ideologies did not simply vanish after 1989. The catchwords were “programmed instruction” and “teaching machines”, accompanied by the promise that all students would make efficient learning progress. Although Eastern and Western states fought the Cold War over political ideologies, their teaching ideologies (perhaps surprisingly) converged. This may explain why neither the apparent failure of these educational ideologies nor the end of the Cold War led to the modification of the ideologies themselves, but rather to the modification of devices serving the ideologies.

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Marcus Otto

This article analyzes how the fundamental challenge of decolonization has resonated in history textbooks published in France since the 1960s. It therefore contextualizes textbook knowledge within different areas of society and focuses on predominant discourses that influenced history textbooks' (post)colonial representations in the period examined. These discourses encompass the crisis of Western civilization, modernization, republican integration, and the postcolonial politics of memory. The author argues that history textbooks have thus become media, as well as objects of an emerging postcolonial politics of memory that involves intense conflicts over immigration and national identity and challenges France's (post)colonial legacy in general.

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Keith Crawford

This article offers a critical exploration of social studies textbooks and allied curriculum materials used in New South Wales primary schools between 1930 and 1960, and of the way in which these texts positioned, discussed, and assessed Aboriginal Australians. With reference to European commitments to Enlightenment philosophies and social Darwinian views of race and culture, the author argues that Aboriginal peoples were essentialized via a discourse of paternalism and cultural and biological inferiority. Thus othered in narratives of Australian identity and national progress, Aboriginal Australians were ascribed a role as marginalized spectators or as a primitive and disappearing anachronism.

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(De)Colonizing Pictures?

German Television and Colonialism

Wolfgang Struck

Over the last decade, an increasing number of documentaries and fictional films broadcast on German television has established an image of German colonialism that claims to be informed by postcolonial criticism but, as I argue in this article, often resembles the image created by colonialism itself. Das Weltreich der Deutschen (The Global German Empire, 2010), a documentation produced by Guido Knopp, serves as an example for the close connection between practices of representation and colonial fantasies, and demonstrates how the combination of entertainment and education obscures the fact that colonialism has been not only a practice of political domination and economical exploitation, but also a practice of representation.