This introduction to the special issue on Images and Films as Objects to
Think With presents a historiographical reflection on how images are
being approached in the field of educational history. In recent years,
much of the work has been situated at the intersection of visual and
material studies; images are considered objects with which humans
interact, carrying affects and particular materialities that condition
their experience; they are taken as historical artefacts that bring out a
plurality of meanings, which continue to grow with each new reading
or approach. This introduction presents the articles that are included in
this special issue as well as a final commentary written by Lynn Fendler
that engages in a dialogue with them. The articles move away from
considering the visual as a transparent source with a stable meaning,
and open up different possibilities for working with and through it.
They also problematise and expand the archives in which historians
work; by looking at various surfaces in which images are exhibited
and circulate, such as books, reports, art shows, films, magazines, and
collective memories, these studies point to the “affective and effective
histories” that images tell, and invite new research agendas for a visual
history of education.
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