Abstract 2- Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2009

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2009



Tasting the Fluoride: The Potential of Feature Film to Enhance the Instruction of the Women’s Movement

Alan S. Marcus
Meg Monaghan
University of Connecticut


This paper addresses our desire to learn more about effective practices with film and our aspiration to promote a more inclusive curriculum. Specifically, we consider how the film Iron Jawed Angels impacted students’ understanding of the American women’s movement, particularly the fight for suffrage by the National Women’s Party, and examines the questions: (a) How can feature films be used to incorporate a close examination of the women’s movement into the curriculum? (b) How do students make sense of the women’s movement when it appears in a feature film during classroom activities? For most students, the film appeared to call important attention to women’s history. The results suggest that feature films with females as main characters or with a narrative based primarily on female perspectives can be used to promote engagement with women’s issues and to promote the inclusion of female perspectives in the secondary curriculum. However, we also found important differences between how female and male students responded to the film.

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About the Author(s)…

Alan S. Marcus is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Connecticut. His research and teaching focus on social studies education and teacher education with a dual emphasis on the benefits and dilemmas of film and television as pedagogical tools in the history classroom, and on museums and historic sites as representations of the past. Alan recently completed an edited volume on film, history, and pedagogy entitled Celluloid blackboard: Teaching history with film.

Meg Monaghan is a doctoral student in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Connecticut. Her research currently focuses on social studies education and gender. Prior to attending the University of Connecticut, she taught middle and high school social studies in Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Primary Contact Information: Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Connecticut, 249 Glenbrook Road, U-2033. Storrs, CT 06269; Phone: (860) 486-0281; Email: alan.marcus@uconn.edu.