Search Currents Currents Archives Contact Currents UC Santa Cruz Home Page
Currents Online

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.

Photo of Carole Gerster

Carole Gerster

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" said Gerster.

Photo of book cover

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 groups.

"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.

Email this story
Printer-friendly version
Return to Front Page