Volume 17 Number 5 March 10, 2016

Bodies in Space/Bodies in Motion/Bodies in Character: Adolescents Bear Witness to Anne Frank

James S. Chisholm
University of Louisville, USA

Kathryn F. Whitmore
University of Louisville, USA

Citation: Chisholm, J. S., & Whitmore, K. F. (2016). Bodies in space/bodies in motion/bodies in character: Adolescents bear witness to Anne Frank. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 17(5). Retrieved from http://www.ijea.org/v17n5/.


Situated at the intersection of research on Holocaust education and embodied literacies this study examines how an arts-based instructional approach engaged middle school learners in developing empathetic perspectives on the Anne Frank narrative. We addressed the research question: What can adolescents who are using their bodies to gain empathy with Anne Frank teach us about embodied literacies? Digital images and video were used to generate a multimodal analytic method that combined focus group interviewing with the Semiotic Photo Response Protocol and Visual Discourse Analysis. Analyses of performance and visual arts texts illustrated how students layered their understandings as they recast meanings across sign systems. As students engaged their bodies in space, in motion, and in character, they learned about the socio-historical and emotional contexts in which Anne lived. These findings suggest that arts-integrated and embodied learning opportunities may support students’ sensemaking about complex narratives.

Visual Abstract

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