July 31, 2006
New book on teaching diversity through film
By Scott Rappaport
A new book coedited by film and digital media lecturer Carole
Gerster suggests how and why to teach about diversity though
the use of film.
Teaching Ethnic Diversity with Film (McFarland, 2006)
offers detailed methods for incorporating films by and about
ethnic groups into the high school and undergraduate college
curriculum, focusing on history, social studies, literature,
and film studies courses. The book also includes essays on the
film history of African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians,
and Latino Americans, and provides four specific curriculum
units, plus a list of resources to help teachers design their
own classroom programs.
"My book examines how film, in its numerous forms and
manifestations, is the literature, history, and social science
of our era, inviting us to see ourselves and our past in compelling
ways, and defining for us our most important social issues"
Teaching Ethnic Diversity with Film is based on the
premise that the United States is a visual culture with a rapidly
expanding ethnic-minority population. It explores how from the
beginning of the 20th century, films created by Euro-Americans
have both recorded and shaped beliefs and attitudes toward ethnic
"Today, in large numbers, ethnic-minority filmmakers are
re-presenting their literatures, histories, cultures, and social
issues from the perspectives of their own experiences,"
said Gerster. "I look at how films can mirror prevailing
attitudes as well as provide new images and promote social change."
Gerster taught for 12 years at the University of Wisconsin-River
Falls, where she helped start and then directed the film studies
minor. She has also designed and directed three National Endowment
for the Humanities Summer Institutes for high school teachers
from across the country on the topic "Picturing America:
Cinematic Representations of Ethnic Diversity."
Gerster joined the UCSC faculty in 2001 and currently teaches
courses on ethnic diversity for the Film and Digital Media Department.