As video becomes more integrated into learning environments, educators are increasingly inventive in how they incorporate it into the curriculum.
For example, students in University of Southern California Professor Colin Keaveney’s upper-level French course use French-language segments from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, a collection of 53,000 video interviews with survivors and witnesses of genocide, to supplement course materials such as French literary texts, theoretical readings, films, poems, and songs.
“The Visual History Archive can provide factual and emotionally powerful information to allow students to better understand those who experienced the German occupation of France in the 1940s,” explained Professor Keaveney.
Emerging themes in Professor Keaveney’s course – Paris as Seen by Writers, Filmmakers, and Photographers -- center around love, loss, and collective and personal memory, with the Visual History Archive providing important learning opportunities. The testimonies include recollections of life before, during and after genocide, encompassing the personal history of each person interviewed, retold in their own words, in their own voices. Since there are no English subtitles in the Visual History Archive, students must be acutely attentive to the testimonies for the most accurate understanding and transcription.
“The content within the [Visual History Archive] gives students more substance, meaning, and depth to the French literature explored in the course. It also enhances the class discussions for more compelling and productive dialogue,” said Professor Keaveney.
Professor Keaveney’s class uses a variety of content formats for a rich learning experience. For example, one assignment integrates video with texts related to a report of young woman named Nadia Jacobson who was linked to the Resistance. The police were looking for her at the family home, but the girl had run away.
As the police were searching house, her younger sister, Louise, returned to the apartment. Since Louise was not wearing the Jewish star, as the law required, she was detained by the police. From there she was deported to Auschwitz.
Students are able to watch and listen to Nadia’s testimony in the Visual History Archive, enabling them learn about her experiences in her own words, according to her recollections and feelings, in the context of official documents of the events. As a result, the official history is humanized by a personal story of loss and bereavement.
The testimonies in Visual History Archive are filmed in 63 countries around the world, in approximately 40 languages. The archive also includes 700,000+ images, including photographs, documents, and works of art; as well as 1.8M names of prominent figures, family members and other people of importance to the interviewees.
A total of 544 courses at 59 universities have drawn upon the Institute’s testimonies in more than 25 academic disciplines.
ProQuest is honored to be in partnership with USC Visual History Archive to offer this material in its entirety to a broader audience and to contribute archival-quality transcripts of all of the testimonies.