American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

New Resource Combines Art, History, Literature

Published March 24, 2011

A two-year collaboration between ASHP/CML and the Brooklyn Museum of Art (BMA) has culminated in the publication of the teacher handbook, Picturing a Nation: Teaching with American Art and Material Culture. The project, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, aims to help teachers and students integrate art into an expanded understanding of history and culture. Lessons use BMA art and ASHP/CML materials to promote document analysis, visual literacy, and point-of-view writing. Students examine and interpret objects and use primary sources to link their observations to the historical context in which the art was created. Handbook activities have been tested in teacher workshops and classrooms and have been integrated into ASHP/CML’s Making Connections professional development program. Comments on the use of the materials have been highly favorable, including the following:

  • Outstanding It provided a strong case for the interdisciplinary approach to teaching.
  • Reminded me of the use of pictures and paintings to encourage close “reading,” close examination. I will use pictures more often in class to develop visual literacy.
  • I haven’t used art in the classroom. I now have an excellent model, and twelve slides which I can use.


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