Culture and its uses as testimony was a two-year research network (2016-2018), supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Cultural forms of testimony include autobiographical accounts, novels, diaries, letters, memoirs, films, theatre, works of art, and documentaries. There are a vast amount of sources out there for teachers to use, but knowing which to use, and how and when to use it can be a challenge.
Teaching Resources: Using Testimony in the Classroom
Together with our network we have now produced resources for teachers of KS3, KS4 and KS5 across English, Drama, Religious Studies, and History. The resources focus on the practical, ethical and methodological issues surrounding the use of testimony in the classroom. These materials have been developed by Prof. Sara Jones, in collaboration with Dr Gary Mills (University of Nottingham), the Holocaust Educational Trust, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and National Holocaust Centre and Museum.
The resources include “lesson sketches” and outline ideas for starters and plenaries, key considerations for working with different kinds of testimony (video testimony, diary, poetry, literature, documentary film and theatre), and example activities with suggestions for extension and group work.
The “Research Briefings” offer pedagogical guidance in two areas: (1) why and how to use testimony in different forms in the classroom; (2) working with the testimony of Kindertransportees and of the second and third generations.
The pedagogical guidance here has been designed specifically for the use of testimony in Holocaust education; however, the ideas and concepts are broadly applicable to the use of testimony in relation to other traumatic and violent events.
In May 2020, the Briefing Note was updated to focus on key issues relevant to the use of testimony in the delivery of Holocaust Education online and through home learning. This includes an updated list of online resources provided by our project partners: Holocaust Educational Trust, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and National Holocaust Centre and Museum.
Briefing Note Updated for online and home learning due to COVID-19
Using Testimony in the Classroom: Full Pack
Using Testimony in the Classroom: 2-page Briefing Note
Engaging with Students’ Starting Points
Video Testimony (example source: Yale Fortunoff Video Archive)
Diary as Testimony (example source: Diary of Anne Frank)
Poetry as Testimony (example source: Nelly Sachs, Chorus of the Saved)
Literature as Testimony (example source: Morris Gleitzman, Once)
Documentary Film as Testimony (example source: Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution)
Theatre as Testimony (example source: Ruth Barnett, What Price for Justice? – download includes sample scene)
Launch event – Testimony in Practice: Education, Art and Performance– 26 February 2020
Our launch event in February 2020 allowed attendees to find out more about the project and the resources and to take part in a discussion about the future of Holocaust education with an expert panel comprising survivors, teachers and national providers.
- Sara Jones (2019), ‘Testimony through Culture: Towards a Theoretical Framework, Rethinking History, 23.3: 257-278
- Project website (including a blog, database of projects on testimony, downloadable reports on the project events and recordings of a selection of conference papers)
The network resulted in a follow-on project, also funded by the AHRC and with the title Testimony in Practice. Testimony in Practice explored the ways in which testimony can be mediated through different cultural forms in ways that are productive for individuals and groups. The two major outputs were an innovative theatre production, created in collaboration with La Conquesta del pol sud and Carmen-Francesca Banciu (A Land Full of Heroes), a testimonies campaign, and a multi-media exhibition commissioned by project partners Centrala Space.
This project is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.