Film, the Past, and a Didactic Dead End: From Teaching History to Teaching Memory

Kansteiner argues that the production of historical film and television programs and the writing of academic history represent two fundamentally different ways of appropriating the past. Academic history focuses on why questions and produces intellectually overdetermined and emotionally underdetermined texts. Historical film and TV pursue how questions (for instance, how did it feel like to live through WWII?) resulting in highly suggestive and immersive visual products. Consequently, film and TV are excellent classroom tools for the teaching of memory but not for the teaching of academic history. Kansteiner concludes with a look at cinema history to illustrate what types of memories can be successfully taught through the use of film.