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Historien som fiktion: gymnasieelevers erfarande av spelfilm i historieundervisningen
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. (History and Education)
2014 (Swedish)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
History as Fiction : Pupils' Reception of Historical Feature Film in Upper Secondary School History Education (English)
Abstract [en]

The present study explores the reception of historical feature films in history education. It is concerned with how pupils experience the films as well as the significance of the feature film for their understanding and interpretation of history. The study incorporates empirical data from classroom projects in two different Swedish upper secondary schools where film was used as an educational tool. Observations of classroom activities were made and interviews with twelve pupils and their history teachers were conducted.

The study applies a phenomenological approach. The lifeworld of the pupils is in focus, specifically the aspect of the lifeworld they live and experience in history class when film is used as a means of understanding the past. The phenomenon studied is thus how the pupils experience the film, and through the film, history itself. Theoretical notions from film reception studies and history didactics are used as analytic tools.

The study shows how emotional and cognitive processes converge in the pupils’ meaning making of the films. The embodiment of the films’ narrative is an important factor that contributes to both the understanding of the film as well as of history. The pupils experience the films emotionally, feeling both empathy and antipathy for the various characters, physically through sight and sound as well as embodied reactions, and cognitively through an understanding of the film’s narrative. Embodied experience is fundamental for history to become materialized. The audiovisual portrayal and materialization of the past becomes embodied in the pupils so that the experience of the film and of the historical lifeworld presented therein becomes part of their lifeworld. Generally, pupils consider the films to be trustworthy, though this perceived accuracy depends on how authentically the narrative is performed and the pupils’ previous store of historical knowledge. 

A didactic dilemma to consider when using historical feature film in the classroom is the contradiction between the aesthetic experience of a feature film and its use as a tool for understanding the past. The captivating character of feature film evokes empathy and engagement with the films’ characters regardless of the degree of historical accuracy. This is a critical issue for teachers; there needs to be balance between respect for the pupils’ aesthetic experience of the film and the need to guide them to develop for example the skills of historical empathy, where distance is necessary for the pupils to be able to consider different perspectives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2014. , 136 p.
, Licentiatavhandlingar från Forskarskolan Historiska medier, 4
Keyword [en]
history didactics, film reception, phenomenology, lifeworld approach, historical feature film, historical thinking, historical empathy
Keyword [sv]
historiedidaktik, filmreception, fenomenologi, livsvärldsansats, historisk spelfilm, historiskt tänkande, historisk empati
National Category
History Educational Sciences
Research subject
history of education
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88698ISBN: 978-91-7601-076-1OAI: diva2:716816
2014-05-28, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2014-05-13 Created: 2014-05-12 Last updated: 2014-11-14Bibliographically approved

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Deldén, Maria
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