Academic Discussions & Lectures

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2010/03/26: Testimonies: Emotions & Balance

Language: English

March 26, 2010: Audio-visual testimonies of traumatic historical events arouse profound emotions in their viewers. The pedagogical questions raised in this session focuses on the appropriateness and/or usefulness of emotionality in teaching about the Holocaust. While many participants were eager to regulate student emotionality in order to ensure an understanding of the larger historical events and a critical distance from the experience of the survivors, others argued that emotion can be a highly useful tool to awaken students empathy and understanding of their past and present surroundings.

This session is moderated by Beth Meyerowitz (Professor of Psychology and Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California) and includes Carolyn Ellis (Professor of Communications and Sociology, University of South Florida), Sharon Gillerman (Adjunct Associate Professor, History, Director of the Edgar F. Magnin School of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Jewish History, Hebrew Union College), and Michael Renov (Professor of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California). Panelists discussing the following topics:

  • How do students respond emotionally to testimony? How do faculty strike a healthy balance of providing a safe place to emote while maintaining a critical evaluation of content?
  • How do the emotions of the interviewee and the response of the interviewer influence the narrative?
  • What are the emotional effects or repercussions of using survivor testimonies in the classroom? How does emotionality affect the learning process?

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