Bringing 'Lincoln' to the Classroom
Emancipation Digital Classroom explores Steven Spielberg’s 'Lincoln'
by Tony Moore
February 21, 2013
© Dreamworks 2012
The 85th-annual Academy Awards presentation will take place on
Sunday, Feb. 24, and in the running across 12 categories is
Steven Spielberg's epic Civil War drama Lincoln. And while
Lincoln's Oscar fate is still undecided, teachers across
the United States already have been embracing the film as an
educational tool, with a little help from a project under way at
Facilitating the classroom exploration of Abraham Lincoln's
Emancipation Proclamation—which celebrates its 150th anniversary
this year—is a new online tool called the Emancipation Digital Classroom, developed by Associate Professor of History and Brian C. Pohanka '77 Chair in American Civil War History Matthew Pinsker as part of his House Divided project.
The Emancipation Digital Classroom offers an in-depth look at
the overarching history of the emancipation era, using several
resources, among them Spielberg's Lincoln.
"Spielberg's movie recreates mood and atmosphere," says Pinsker.
"If kids can visualize and imagine how history unfolded, perhaps
they'll become more interested in it."
The film's educational use is heightened by the Emancipation
Digital Classroom's "Unofficial Teacher's Guide to Spielberg's
Lincoln," which features a scene-by-scene summary of Tony
Kushner's Oscar-nominated script, analysis of artistic license
taken by the filmmakers and historians' reaction to the work. The
Teacher's Guide, which also features side-by-side comparisons of historical figures and the actors who play them in the
film, has already been used in classrooms across the country.
The Emancipation Digital Classroom, while broad in scope itself,
is part of the broader House Divided project. House Divided has
served as an online repository of digital American Civil War
resources for K-12 and undergraduate classrooms, and since its 2011
public launch it has had more than 500,000 unique visitors, a
number surely to rise with Lincoln's box office and
photos © Dreamworks 2012