Jump to content
The Education Forum

Studying the Kennedy Assassination


Recommended Posts

New class offers different perspective on Kennedy assassination

By Joseph Fowler

10/13/06

A new class puts the Kennedy assassination into a different perspective.

This spring Michael Smith, associate professor of history, will lead students through the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The class will establish the difference between historical fact and the conspiracy culture that has grown up around the events of Nov. 22, 1963.

History 302S: "The Kennedy Assassination in Global Perspective" will examine how the Kennedy assassination affected the Cold War and how it was connected to such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Many texts about the Kennedy assassination and a wealth of other media sources, including Oliver Stone's "JFK," the Zapruder film and radio reports from that day, will prepare the class for the discussion.

Smith said the course will differentiate between fact and falsehood. "This is a pro-active course; I want students to come to their own conclusions," he said.

The class will begin with the Zapruder film of the assassination, and then view the world's reaction by listening to radio reports, watching the news reports from that day and viewing the film of Kennedy's funeral procession.

By combining American, Russian and Cuban histories, the course will show the effect the assassination had on the world. The course will also show the affect on the office of the presidency and the changes in American political life since the assassination. Smith will explore the Kennedy myth by examining Kennedy's life, election and the events before and after his death.

Student reaction has been positive. "I would be interested in taking this class," said Victoria Cesario, a senior in the School of Management. "I like history and I've always been fascinated by the Kennedy era."

John Brenia, a freshman in the School of Management, said he would be interested in taking the class because, "It's one of those things where no one really knows what happened."

Ryan Hoffman, a sophomore in the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences, said, "It's an important part of history; I think we should learn from it."

The class will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays in University Hall, Room 303. The course will be available for the spring semester 2007.

http://www.purdueexponent.org/index.php?mo...p;story_id=2375

Link to comment
Share on other sites

New class offers different perspective on Kennedy assassination

By Joseph Fowler

10/13/06

A new class puts the Kennedy assassination into a different perspective.

This spring Michael Smith, associate professor of history, will lead students through the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The class will establish the difference between historical fact and the conspiracy culture that has grown up around the events of Nov. 22, 1963.

History 302S: "The Kennedy Assassination in Global Perspective" will examine how the Kennedy assassination affected the Cold War and how it was connected to such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Many texts about the Kennedy assassination and a wealth of other media sources, including Oliver Stone's "JFK," the Zapruder film and radio reports from that day, will prepare the class for the discussion.

Smith said the course will differentiate between fact and falsehood. "This is a pro-active course; I want students to come to their own conclusions," he said.

The class will begin with the Zapruder film of the assassination, and then view the world's reaction by listening to radio reports, watching the news reports from that day and viewing the film of Kennedy's funeral procession.

By combining American, Russian and Cuban histories, the course will show the effect the assassination had on the world. The course will also show the affect on the office of the presidency and the changes in American political life since the assassination. Smith will explore the Kennedy myth by examining Kennedy's life, election and the events before and after his death.

Student reaction has been positive. "I would be interested in taking this class," said Victoria Cesario, a senior in the School of Management. "I like history and I've always been fascinated by the Kennedy era."

John Brenia, a freshman in the School of Management, said he would be interested in taking the class because, "It's one of those things where no one really knows what happened."

Ryan Hoffman, a sophomore in the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences, said, "It's an important part of history; I think we should learn from it."

The class will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays in University Hall, Room 303. The course will be available for the spring semester 2007.

http://www.purdueexponent.org/index.php?mo...p;story_id=2375

Last Wednesday I had a meeting with a teacher who runs this course at Holbrook High School. It is for pupils aged 14-16.

JFK: the medium, the message and the myth

Why is JFK remembered so positively?

THE HOOK

How does the director make his audience care about JFK?

Teacher led, step-by-step analysis of the opening 5 minutes of Oliver Stone’s JFK.

• Step 1: Explore use of music (block out the visual image). What tone does the music set? (Pupils select from word/phrase bank)

• Step 2: Analyse the commentary. Play the rest of the extract – continuing to block out visual images. Study tone, style and use of loaded language.

• Step 3: Examine Stone’s choice of visual images. Play the extract again – this time concentrate on the images Stone has selected. Focus on:

(i) the overall message being presented (again – pupils could select from a word/phrase bank)

(ii) the selective use of colour. (Why does the director want these images to stand out?)

(iii) the way in which the director positions two unrelated clips next to each other to create a new meaning.

Homework: Study the first 5 minutes of the film ‘JFK’.

How does the director make his audience care about JFK?

CRITICAL THINKING

Why does the director want to create such a positive impression?

• Brainstorm: What motives might the director have for creating such a positive impression of JFK? (Encourage pupils to think about the aims of a film-maker – to educate, inform, entertain, persuade, make money?)

• Pupils find out more about the director. Study a brief biography of Oliver Stone and an interview (in which he discusses his past, political standpoint, his views on history and the role of the filmmaker).

Homework: Use your own knowledge, the short biography of Stone and the interview with him to explain why he wanted to create a positive impression of JFK in the first five minutes of his film.

ANALYSING INTERPRETATIONS

• Explain that most people follow the Oliver Stone line – that is, JFK the hero. Reinforce by getting pupils to interview parents/older relatives. How do they remember JFK? Make sure pupils record the words they use to describe JFK and use these at the start of the next lesson.

• Introduce the BIG QUESTION:

Why is JFK remembered so positively?

Use prior knowledge to generate reasons why people become heroes or heroines. Then explore POSSIBLE REASONS:

POSSIBLE REASON 1: ACHIEVEMENTS

Is his record as President enough to explain his heroic status?

• Start by exploring what happened during his presidency. Provide an overview of the problems JFK faced as President (Foreign Policy – Berlin, Cuba, Vietnam. Domestic Policy – Congress, Civil Rights, Poverty, Economy, Organised Crime, Space Programme). Exploit the OVERVIEW LURKING WITHIN THE DEPTH (Cold War, Civil Rights, US political system).

• Pupils then carry out structured research (they choose their method – eg - linear notes, sorting frame or mind map) into how JFK dealt with these problems. Follow up with whole-class discussion: How effectively did JFK deal with the problems he faced whilst in office? End by asking: Does his record as President explain why JFK is remembered so positively?

POSSIBLE REASON 2: IMAGE

Did glamour overshadow quality?

• Explore way in which JFK changed politics – the ‘new politics’, the first TV president, spin, manipulation of the media. Do we remember image or reality?

POSSIBLE REASON 3: THE ASSASSINATION

What impact did it have in the short-term?

• Pupils explore public reaction to the death. Use Sorenson (he argues that the death of JFK affected people more deeply than the death of their own parents – represented a loss of the future rather than the past). Compare to more recent events – eg – Diana.

• Investigate the role played by Jackie Kennedy – creation of the Camelot myth. Discuss – To what extent did Jackie rescue JFK’s reputation?

What impact has the controversy over the assassination had on JFK’s reputation?

• Explore controversy surrounding the assassination. When the Warren Commission published their report in 1964 most Americans believed its findings. Today most Americans believe that JFK was killed as a result of a conspiracy. This led on to:

OTHER POSSIBLE REASONS:

Why have interpretations changed so much since 1964?

• Pupils investigate how and why interpretations have changed since the Warren Commission’s report in 1964 - combination of new evidence (Zapruder footage, Dallas police tapes) and changing attitudes and values. Pupils use a living graph to identify the key factors that caused interpretations to change. Once again – exploit the overview lurking within the depth – impact of Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-gate on American attitudes, culture and beliefs.

• Explore the link between conspiracy theories and positive interpretations of JFK - How has the controversy over the assassination changed the way we look at JFK? – i.e. – JFK the great, progressive, liberal martyr – killed because of the threat he represented to the establishment

EXTENDED THINKING

Pulling it all together:

• Class debate on enquiry question: Why has JFK been remembered so positively?

Extended writing: ‘The nature of JFK’s death is the main reason his reputation grew in the years after the assassination.’ To what extent do you agree?

POST-SCRIPT: CREATIVE THINKING

How do pupils think should JFK be remembered?

• Discuss: How would pupils like JFK be remembered? Do pupils have their own views and personal interpretations?

• Pupils produce their own 2-minute presentation combining visual images and commentary. Storyboard in pairs first – then share ideas with another pair and form production teams of 4. Present ideas using PowerPoint or DVD/video.

• Follow-up class discussion highlighting differences in their interpretations and possible reasons for this.

REFLECTION

• Pupils reflect on what they have learnt and how they can apply it in the future. Action planning for GCSE exam: identify strengths and weaknesses (e.g. ability to handle written and visual sources, analyse historical interpretations, organise and communicate ideas effectively).

How soon after JFK’s death could the Oliver Stone film have been made?

By looking at events in the thirty years after his death, pupils can reflect on the way values and attitudes changed and pinpoint the earliest possible moment at which a film embodying this interpretation could have been made. (This could link causation – especially counter-factual reasoning – with interpretations.)

Did the JFK film change, reinforce or exaggerate existing attitudes?

Pupils might look at reactions to the film in critical reviews, on websites and in journals. They might look at (i) other interpretations and (ii) other media and styles of interpretation of JFK in the decade after the film.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...