Educational Film from a Historical Perspective

Am 27. und 28. Mai 2016 fand am Georg-Eckert-Institut ein internationaler Workshop zum Thema »Der Lehrfilm in historischer Perspektive« statt. Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler aus dem Bereich der Geschichts-, Medien- und Filmwissenschaft diskutierten nicht nur über die kontroverse Debatte, die dieses neue Medium Anfang der 1920er Jahre hervorbrachte, sondern erörterten auch die ästhetischen, didaktischen und politischen Aspekte des Lehrfilms.

The aim of the workshop is to discuss, from an internationally comparative and transnational perspective, why, and how, educational films became to be used in schools as a ‘new ‘medium’ for teaching and learning in the Interwar years, and what impact they had. The guiding objectives are based on three central research questions.

The workshop will explore the complex conflicts between the support and resistance expressed by a diverse range of political and social interest groups towards the introduction of educational films in schools in the 1920s. Prominent among these were debates among teachers and also among education policy makers. These disputes were firmly rooted in the context of the larger discourse on educational reform and corresponding educational practices in the Interwar years. The workshop will also address whether, and if so to what extent, educational films changed the culture of learning and teaching. In terms of the sociological content of textbooks and educational films the discussion will examine whether the films complemented traditional textbooks or were a substitute for them. When comparing the old medium – the textbook – with the new medium – the film – we must explore the specific influence of the individual educational media.

A comparison of the experiences of different countries should reveal similarities and contrasts in the progress of this phenomenon and will attempt to answer the question of whether the introduction of educational films into schools was indeed an international, or at least transnational, phenomenon, realised through numerous transnational agents. The workshop is therefore rooted within the research fields of comparative and transnational educational history

In addition a methodological meeting will explore the extent to which an analysis of medial and media-related aspects of knowledge building and of the popularisation of knowledge and expertise would provide a methodological impetus to study the rhetorical, narrative and iconographic strategies behind sites of memory and the construction of knowledge.

Workshop Programme

Friday, 27 May 2016    

14:00 –15:30

Welcome Address & Introduction to the Workshop

Eckhardt Fuchs (Director, Georg Eckert Institute & Chief Scientific Researcher of the DFG Project »Educational Film in the Interwar Period«)

Keynote: The Mediatization and Visualization of Scientific Knowledge in Educational Films

Ramón Reichert (University of Vienna)

Chair: Michael Annegarn-Gläß (GEI)


16:15 –18:15

Panel I: Educational Films as an Innovative Medial Device

  •  The Introduction of Films in Teaching Methods in the Context of the Interwar Period in France

Christel Taillibert (University Nice Sophia-Antipolis)

  • The Fascist »Talking Blackboard«. Italian Educational Film under Fascism and Beyond

Donatella Germanese (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin / European University Institute, Florence)

  • Education, Recreation and Propaganda: Educational Films in China in the 1920s and 1930s

Kaiyi Li (GEI)

Chair: Lars Müller (GEI)

Saturday, 28 May 2016

09:15 – 11:15

Panel II: Economics, Audiences & International Institutions

  • Economics of Educational Films in Germany

Jeanpaul Goergen (DFG Project »History of Documentary Film in Germany, 1945-2005«, Berlin)

The Bored vs. Immoral Film Audience. The Educational Film Viewer Scrutinized in Viennese Bureaucratic Correspondence and Public Media

Katrin Pilz  (Université Libre de Bruxelles & University of Vienna) in Germany 

  • The League of National and the Politics of Educational Cinematography

Anne Bruch (GEI)

Chair: Michael Annegarn-Gläß (GEI)

11:30 – 13:00

Panel III: Narratives, Colour & Animation: Visual Tropes and Film Techniques in Educational Cinematography

  • Narratives of Colonialism in German Educational Films in the Interwar Period

Michael Annegarn-Gläß (GEI)

  • From Colour Photography to Colour Films: Sergey Prokudin-Gorskii’s Educational Projects

Nadezhda Stanulevich (Russian Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg)

  • Utilitarian Animation in Educational Film

Kate Dollenmayer (The Wende Museum, Culver City, California)

Chair: Anne Bruch (GEI)

14:30 – 16:00

Panel IV: Politics, Propaganda & Educational Films

  • Radioactivity in 16mm. On Scientific Educational Film in the Cold War

Kerrin Klinger (Humboldt University of Berlin)

  • Educational Film as a Soviet Heritage

Anna Zadora (Maison Interuniversitaire de Sciences de l’Homme-Alsace, Strasbourg)

Chair: Michael Annegarn-Gläß (GEI)

16:15 – 17:15

Panel Discussion & Farewell

Chair: Thomas Tode (University of Hamburg)