Blog Post #4 Use of Images & Film in History Education

At the risk of sounding incredibly naïve, I have to wonder in this day and age of social media, do we all practice a form of digital story telling? Consider Instagram, especially the “stories” features. Users upload pictures, quotes, quick videos, often times with music that is applicable to the content. Any number of posts can be added to this story, to compile a theme. That theme might be a visit to somewhere, an average day in the life, a memorable event, etc. Often times, the posts are curated to provide the best possible image; edited until the desired effect is reached. Have we, the general public, gotten accustomed to digital storytelling in our everyday lives?

I suppose an art historian (hopefully one day, me!) utilizes the visual component of digital storytelling, simply by the nature of the subject. Art history without images is a pretty dull concept! But what else can be included to create a more varied learning experience? For example, let’s take the Mona Lisa, one of the most well known paintings in the world. However, this small portrait of a woman was relatively unknown until 1911, when it was stolen from The Louvre. As we know from history, a scandal almost always increases the appeal of an event or object. To help tell this story, it would be important to incorporate details of this crime, digitalized copies of police reports, perhaps interviews with family members of the Italian museum handyman who felt the Mona Lisa belonged back in Italy. A visual of a timeline of the journey from the night the painting went missing until it was returned to the museum (2 years later!). Also important would be interviews with Louvre officials familiar with case. Maybe even an interactive assignment where students could create their own adventure for the Mona Lisa during those two years missing- What did she see? Where did she go? And is she happy to be back in Paris?