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Interpretations - Misunderstod skill?

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#1 Richard Drew

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 06:19 AM

Interpretations – a misunderstood skill?

My old PGCE lecturer, who was also an inspector for ESTYN, used to tell us that in his experience interpretations was the worst taught, and least taught historical skill. You may find that hard to believe given the intensity of debate over interpretations that takes place on this site, but in my experience in schools I would have to agree, largely I think because of misconceptions about what interpretations are and are not.

In this seminar I intend to cover 3 issues spread out over the week:

i) What interpretations are and are not
ii) Effective strategies for teaching interpretations
iii) Effective strategies for assessing pupils understanding of interpretations

Issue 1: What Interpretations are and are not

A while ago I asked another history teacher to tell me about how they teach interpretations at KS3. The teacher set about describing an ‘Interpretations Lesson‘ on Cromwell. The pupils are given a list of things that Cromwell ‘did’ and have the challenge of organising them into two lists – good things he did and bad things he did. This, I was informed, was about interpretations, as it required the pupils to provide a 2-sided answer: ‘Was Cromwell a hero or a villain?’ - on the one hand yes, on the other hand no.

I pondered on this for a while and wondered why the teacher thought that this was an interpretations lesson, (particularly as any list a pupil made would be entirely based on their own value system, and with little knowledge of C17 Britain would be utterly out of context. We all know that they will all put banning Christmas in the bad column, but what does this tell us about interpretations of history).

Then it struck me, it is because of the way interpretations are used on GCSE exam papers. To achieve good marks in a GCSE exam you have to provide evidence that agrees with an interpretation and evidence that disagrees with an interpretation, almost no marks are offered for analysing or explaining the intperpretation. As such the interpretation is not used as an interpretation, but rather as a springboard to a mini-argumentative essay. In reality what is the point of quoting an historian (usually utterly out of context) and then saying ‘in the quote the historian is saying that Hitler improved the lives of the German people. Is this a valid interpretation?’ Why not just ask ‘Did Hitler improve the lives of the German people?’ Clearly the use of interpretations on GCSE exam papers encourages poor teaching of interpretations lower down the school.

Interpretations are not coming up with a 2-sided argument based on your own views, and they are so much more than historians’ opinions.

So what are interpretations?

‘Interpretations are in essence thoughtful efforts to represent and explain past events’

There are 3 vital elements to interpretations: -

Thoughtful efforts – Interpretations are conscious reflections on the past, not simply irrational spur-of-the-moment opinions.

Representations – Interpretations are efforts to give an audience an image or description of the event/issue being focused on

Past events – Interpretations are the reflections of those studying the past, not of the participants in those events. Without the process of reflection removed from the event by time the creator of the view is inevitably partially influenced by the impact the person/event had on them.

This does not limit interpretations to the writings of professional academic historians. In reality many interpretations never get treated as such, and are simply regarded as sources of evidence. I believe that each of the following are valid for pupil study, analysis and evaluation as interpretations:

Physical interpretations – Museum displays or reconstructed/restored historical sites. A trip to any 2 castles will leave you with 2 different interpretations of life in Medieval Britain

Visual – a useful distinction between sources of evidence and interpretations can be made with regard to visual sources. Photographs are a visual source of evidence, whereas paintings are interpretations, think of ‘Gassed’ and the equivalent photograph.

TV/Film: documentaries (Starkey, Schama et all), Dramas (such as the recent Hitler and Henry VIII programmes) and Films (from Pearl Harbour and JFK to All Quiet on the Western Front) are all interpretations of historical events or situations

Novels and plays – Birdsong is as much an interpretation of life in the trenches as any academic book

are also interpretations of a person’s life

But interpretations are not only the physical work of one person. Interpretations can also include folk wisdom/popular myth

Each of these is a thoughtful effort to represent and explain past events.

As such each is worthy of study as interpretation, and pupils should be given the opportunity to study, analyse and evaluate these within their schemes of work.

To my mind this also means huge opportunities for stimulating and engaging history, but more about that later in the week.
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#2 Stephen Drew

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 12:56 AM

I found the most interesting piece of your seminar (so far) to be your argument on the influence of GCSE exam practice on the teaching of interpretations at Key Stage 3.

I will openly confess that I had not considered it in this way in the past, but the way that you have explained it and presented the case has really made me think this evening about how my department deals with this skill in the lower school.

I expect that this will be one of the seminars that actually gets a limited number of responses, not out of disinterest from the readers, but because the lead articles of the seminar are more about imparting highly vaulable and thought provoking than opening up a real discussion of the issues.

Thank you.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

#3 Richard Drew

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 06:26 AM

Thankyou Stephen. I hope i have been able to stimulate readers to reflect on the way interpretations are taught in their schools.

ii) Effective strategies for teaching interpretations

The National Curriculum requires pupils to gradually raise their interpretations skills, in line with their other skills, and obviously a sensible approach.

Over the next few days i wish to tackle each level of awareness/skill with suggestions for how to teach pupils to achieve this level of skill. I would be very pleased if the remainder of this eminar could become an opportunity for readers to share good practice that goes on within their own school.

The National Curriculum Levels indicate that pupils should progress through the following develompent:

1) Be aware that diferent interpretations exist
2) Suggest reasons for this
3) Describe different interpretations
4) Explain how and why different interpretations have been reached
5) Analyse, explain and evaluate interpretations

this seems like a sensible progression to me, although in my experience some pupils are ready to make the jump to number 4 or 5 as soon as they are aware of number 1!!!

How to make pupils aware that different interpretations exist

When i was on PGCE a few years ago, the fashion seemed to be to introduce the idea of interpretations by asking pupils if they thought that Man United were the best team in the world. there would inevitably be disagreement and this would then be used to explain what interpretations are. Obviously this is a daft analogy - the best team in the world is a quantifiable thing for starters, and secondly the reasons for disagreement bear v.little relation to the reasons for differing interpretations so the analogy will later become confusing.

so what are good ways to make pupils ware that different interpretations exist?

i will offer a couple of example from my own teaching:

~ the '2-sides of the room' approach. Create 2 different information sheets about the same person or event (e.g. Henry VIII, JFK), one showing very positive interpretations of the person, the other showing very negative interpretations of the same person. Have them on the desks before the pupils enter the room - one sheet for one half of the room, another sheet for the other half. ask the pupils to study their sheet and make a list of words/write a paragraph describing the person or event. ask for feedback from one half of the room - the other half of the roomwill start to look utterly confused and bewlidered, creating a cognitive conflict in their minds. ask for the feedback of the second half, and the same conflict will be created in the minds of the 1st half of the room. Pupils are now aware that different interpretations exist, and are ready to brainstorm/suggest reasons for this

~ the 'textbook front cover' approach. Take a selection of textbooks about the same topic/period from your resource cupboard (e.g. 1750-1900 books may show the great exhibition, reform protests, a slum or images of slavery). photocopy them, removing the tile and dates. ask the pupils to come up with titles for the books. they will all produce exciting titles, but ones that suggest the books are about very different things. you are then able to reveal to the pupils that they books are all about the same period/issue. pupils are now aware that issues/events have been represented in different ways.

these are just a couple of example of how to make pupils aware that different interpretations exist, and the important thing hrere is that they are within an historical context making them relevant, but also they are fun and engaging, and effectively communicate the issues.

over to you if you have any methods you use to teach this first level of skill........
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#4 alison denton

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 08:17 PM

Great so far, Richard!

Very interesting and thought provoking on what interpretations really are - I don't think enough debate has gone into this area, and to me it can mean lots of different things. One thing I'm sure it is NOT is exclusively the ramblings of historians ....

A suggestion about offering pupils the opportunity to see that there can be more than one interpretation of the same event/ period/ person:

Pupils work in groups with a set of picture cards (say, 20). They are told they are in charge of an exhibition on the _____ period, but can only select 10 pictures as there's only room for 10. Which 10 and why?
Finally - they must select which they think is the ONE most important picture to be on the front cover of the programme for the exhibition, and justify their choice. Hopefully, 20 different versions of what should be on the cover, and why, and lots of speaking and listening, decision-making and justifying to boot.

#5 Richard Drew

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 08:33 PM

Pupils work in groups with a set of picture cards (say, 20). They are told they are in charge of an exhibition on the _____ period, but can only select 10 pictures as there's only room for 10. Which 10 and why?
Finally - they must select which they think is the ONE most important picture to be on the front cover of the programme for the exhibition, and justify their choice. Hopefully, 20 different versions of what should be on the cover, and why, and lots of speaking and listening, decision-making and justifying to boot.

a great idea, thanks.

clearly about interpretations - the pupils are involved in reflecting on the era/event (presumably they have knwoeldge of the eriod the task realtes to already). and the task provokes the pupils to create their own interpretations, making the concept of interpretations very real to them as they are at the centre of this process themselves in this task.

and again it is obviously a task that allows the pupils to easily make the jump to the next stage of awareness/skill

more ideas welcomed
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#6 Richard Drew

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Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:14 PM

now that pupils are performing at level 4 of the National Curriculum and are aware that different interpretations exist, how do we move them on to level 5?

How to facilitate pupils ability to suggest reasons for the fact that different interpretations exist

on one level this seems very easy. once many pupils become aware of the fact that different interpretations exist, they are able to use their common sense and critical thinking skills to offer reasons why. the kind of exercises described earlier encourage this for 2 reasons:

~ firstly they create cognitive conflicts or pupil disagreement that engenders a genuine desire to suggest reasons for the differences

~ secondly the actual activites themselves hint at resons for differing interpretations, and so the pupils simply need to make a connection between the process of the task and the outcomes.

so for many pupils a brainstorming session or a class discussion will move the pupils on, and those with strong skills for orally communicating their own ideas will teach each other (one of my colleagues at school is currently obsessed with the statistic that teenagers learn 80% of their information from each other).

in my own classroom recently such a discussion with a KS3 class threw up the following reasons without any prompting from me:

1) the creators of the interpretations may have studied different evidence
2) the creators of the interpretations may have been viewing the situation from the perspective of different groups of people
3) the creators of the interpretations may be focusing on different 'types of history' (be it economic, social, political etc)
4) the creators of the interpretations may be targetting different audiences and writing/creating for different purposes
5) the creators of the interpretations will have their own intrinsic values/beliefs that will influence their interpretation of events

however, many pupils are less able to use their resoning skills and are less able to express their ideas. so how can we provide a framework in which to allow these pupils to produce such suggestions:

1) create this environment in the classroom. provide different pupils with different evidence on the same topic.

for example give some pupils sources that describe JFK's image as an eloquent speaker, a caring father, a war hero, a passionate believer in civil rights etc. provide other pupils with evidence of his affairs, links to the mafia, assassination plans for castro, criticisms of his role in the sinking of PT-109 etc. ask the pupils to reflect on their knowledge of JFK and write a short passage about him. they will produce differing interpretations, and the idea of examining different evidence will stick. the actual process is obviously an extreme example, but it communicates the point effectively

2) again, create this environment in the classroom.

ask the pupils to examine the slave trade from the perspective of a slave and then of a slave owner, or ask different pupils to examine the slave trade from the different perspectives. again, an extreme version of events, but again it communicates the point effectively

3) this is easily done within an enquiry on a particular period in history. an obvious case would be the industrial revolution.

when studying the economic results of the industrial revolution ask the pupils to reflect on how an economic study of the IR would represent the IR, the same when studying the social aspects and then the political aspects. as an overview at the end of the study a card sorting exercise (or similar) contaning cards dispalying many of the key ec/soc/pol consequences would reinforce the point that viewed from an economic perspective the IR seems largely more positive than viewed from a largely social perspective

4) a comparison of any two interpretations produced for different purposes would achieve this.

asking pupils to contrast the representation of trench life in 'Blackadder goes Forth' and at the Imperial War Museum
asking the pupils to compare the writings of Terry Deary in 'Vile Victorians' and the writings of the eminent John D Clare in 'New Worlds for Old' on the topic of life in industrial towns
and so on

one of my Y9's eloquently explained to the class the other day that 'the description of industrial towns in vile victorians is inveitably a very negative interpretation, as this is the whole purpose of the book - a book in a horrible histories series called vile victorians is hardly going to portray a balanced and fairly upbeat image of life in industrial towns, the purpose had clearly affected the presentation of the interpretation.'

5) here you can put pupils in the positions of different groups of people and ask them to examine the same evidence. give the pupils set parameters for the lifestyle/beliefs of these people.

for example divide your class up into members of the NMA, royalists, puritan MPs and ordinary protestants during the Commonwealth. give the pupils a description of their character's values/beliefs and then give all pupils the same information about cromwell as a card sort and ask them to sort the cards into things their character would like, not like, and not be particularly bothered with about Cromwell. the results communicate 2 points very effectively. different groups reach different overall perspectives on cromwell (some generally supportive, some generally unsupportive, some in between and some on the extremes) despite having examined the same evidence, and also the reasons for those choices are different - specific carsd have been placed in very different places by different groups

each of these methods i describe are examples of ways in which to create a framework that allows pupils to suggest the reasons put forward by my KS3 class, and indeed have all been used by me to tease the same ideas out of some of my other KS3 classes.

again, methods used by readers within their own classrooms are very welcome
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#7 Richard Drew

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 07:36 PM

now that our pupils have reached the dizzy heights of level 5, how do we move them on to level 6 and 7?

How to facilitate pupils to describe different interpretations and to explain how and why different interpretations have been reached

for me this is the point at which the levels of the national curriculum become a tad unclear. what is the difference between suggesting reasons for differing interpretations and explaining how and why these differences exist. surely it is a matter of providing evidence/making your suggestions coherent. however, can we ever be sure as to how and why an individual has reached the interpretaion they have? or do we have to offer informed guesses.

informed guesses will have to be the best we can do in most cases.

so how can we facilitate pupils to turn their suggestions into explanations?

the issue here is PROCESS and PURPOSE. if pupils can master the notion of the process the creator of the interpretation has gone through then they will be able to offer explanations for how and why the view has been reached.

however this creates an enormous confusion if it is handled badly - as in my opinion it usually is - particularly with reference to historians. essentially all historians go through the same process of research to arrive at their view, and have the same purpose - to provide as accurate an account as possible. this provides no answers to the question.

so how do we provide them with opportunities to explain the production of controversial/one-sided interpretations?

is it all about that little attribution sentence that we type in for them after the interpretation?

do we give them a date of publication so they can automatically say older interpretations are out of date and less valid?
do we tell them the type of historian so they can say that a social historian knows nothing about economics?
do we tell them if the work is a general or specialist work so they can argue that a general text is less valid?
do we tell them about the audience the interpretation is produced for so that they can argue that 'populist' works are less academic and therefore less valid?

in my opinion this is bad history, because it panders to the superficial, and often nonsensical, through a lack of either i) expectations of the pupils, ii) imagination or iii) understanding of the skill being taught.

each of these points may have some validity, but it is easy to provide obvious examples to prove that these claims does not hold water in all cases.

the only way pupils can be given the opportunity to generate a valid explanation for differing interpretations is if they are provided with appropriate support and information. to genuinely make an informed guess about the reason an historian reaches an interpretation pupils must be aware of some context about the individual historian.

i'm quite sure that pupils can hit level 6/7 of the national curriculum explaining the points about publication dates, types of historian, types of work and audience. indeed these are pretty intelligent observations from 13 year olds, however i fear that they will lead to bad habits higher up the school, and especially when pupils reach the stage of studying history at A-Level, and end up producing explanations such as 'a woman writing in the 1970's must be a feminist historian'.

to my mind pupils should be pointed in the direction of evaluating interpretations, a far more useful, worthwhile and straight-forward skill. yet it is seen in the NC as a higher skill than one which will never be concrate and will always be relatively educated guesswork.

Edited by Richard Drew, 18 October 2003 - 07:39 PM.

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#8 Richard Drew

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Posted 19 October 2003 - 07:40 PM

given that we all appear to be in agreement that asking pupils to make generalisations about how and why interpretations are reached, and therefore that teaching this is counterproductive, and that A-Level exam papers ask pupils to display flawed skills, the focus moves onto a much more worthwhile skill.

how to faciliatate pupils to evaluate interpretations

this issue throws up a very interesting observation:

for whatever reason, GCSE syllabi ask that interpretations and sources are dealt with as entirely different skills.

exam papers ask pupils to judge how useful a source is, and our pupils deploy whatever technique they have been taught to answer this: PACT, CAP, COP etc. the same exam paper then asks pupils to judge how valid an interpretation is:
somehow a group of historians sat around a table devising a syllabus and exam paper and came to the conclusion that the view of an historian is an 'extra special' source that deserves 'extra special' treatment. i wonder how that view was reached? (answers on a postcard to please)

to my mind evaluating interpretations is no different to evaluating any other source. after all, to use hideous jargon, are interpretations not simply 'secondary sources'.

i add one exception to this - with interpretations you also include the process the creator has been through to reach the view.

so how do we provide pupils with the necessary skills to evaluate interpretations?

it is a skill that once mastered becomes incredibly straightforward, and so we have to teach the pupils a simple process.

start easy, by finding a controversial interpretation on an issue pupils already know a lot about - i start in y7 with the Bayeux Tapestry, you could equally start with an interpretation of King John, Richard III, Henry VIII etc etc.

begin with the content of the interpretation - weigh up the known evidence for and against: what can we prove to be valid and non-valid, from using our own knowledge and other available evidence. with the bayeux tapestry a focus on particular scenes from the tapestry is a useful vehicle for drawing out pupil observations (e.g. Wall of Shield scene - other evidence shows that this happened - tick the interp is valid, but other evidence shows the 2 sides had very different shields and armour - cross the interp is not valid).
here one thing must be utterly discouraged - the use of bland personal values by pupils. this introuces the poor scenario i referred to at the start of the seminar with regard to Cromwell, the 'yes i agree Cromwell was a villain because he banned christmas' answer

then onto attribution: a discussion of the expertise of the author, the integrity of the purpose and the process of the creator naturally draw out useful conclusions (a teacher skilled in open questions will naturally generate quality responses - why do you think Odo wanted the Tapestry made? why do you think the tapestry makes the English like an equal enemy? if Harold's 'promise' scene was not in the tapestry how would that change the story?)

once pupils have begun to understand this skill, writing frames can be deployed to help them to structure this on paper: PEE for, PEE against, PEE in relation to each aspect of attribution, summation.

once pupils have developed this skill, they will be able to apply it to any historical interpretation. indeed they will be desperate to, after all what teenager doesn't love arguing with others about opinions, and what teenager doesn't love to rebel against the opinions of others and what teenager doesn't love finding fault with anything that has gone before them. and most significant of all, what teenager in't utterly convinced of the 100% correctness of their own opinions at all time, and will argue to the death to prove it. i find interpretations the most motivating skill to cover with pupils, simply because it taps into their naturally doubting, argumentative natures.

i for one cannot understand why this is a level 8 skill at KS3

Edited by Richard Drew, 19 October 2003 - 07:43 PM.

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#9 alison denton

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Posted 19 October 2003 - 08:01 PM


You've raised very important and thought provoking points here Richard, especially with regard to what good teaching of 'interpretations' is.
The practical examples you have given are clear and will be valuable to try out in the classroom.
I agree about the artioficial separation of interpretations from sources, and knowledge/ understanding. To my mind too, this is not some mystical separate skill, but a fusion of pupils using just their K and U of a topic to argue for/ against a particular interpretation bringing in and evaluating any other interpretations they know of, and their skills of evaluating sources, if an interpretation happens to be given to them in the form of a source.

A useful reference here might be Teaching History 110 March 2003 and a fantastic article (as usual) by Sean Lang: 'Narrative: the underrated skill.'

#10 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 19 October 2003 - 11:52 PM

I'd like to say thanks to Richard for covering this area in so much depth. I'd got a few ideas together prior to the seminar that I thought I'd be able to contribute, only to find that Richard had beaten me to it again and again.

With regards types of Interpretations and ways of students accessing them and, perhaps, recording them: the most effective interpretations of World War One work my department does, is actually delivered by Art teachers and the English Department. In art students study 'War' as a theme. They are taught this at the same time as I teach them WW1. The artwork displayed, and the ideas bhin them are fascinating and have the students gripped. Students see a wide range of pro and anti war images as a result of the Art depts teaching - this has had an extremely positive impact upon my assessment results at the end of the unit on WW1.

Similarly in English there is a study of War Poetry. This isn't just WW1, the study extends into modern conflicts, with an analysis of the speech by a Major (I forget his name) prior to Gulf War II being used.

Combined these studies allow students to have a full VAK study of WW1. More apt though is that they have been provided with a range of interpretations of the conflict and a variety of methods through which they could express their understanding of the war.

#11 Richard Drew

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 06:27 AM

Thanks Dan.

you are right to identify WW1 as an abundent area for the study of interpretations. in particular it is a wonderful opportunity to examine and evaluate interpretations from 'non-historians' - as you say art and poetry are in abundence, and from a huge variety of people: soldiers, those in 'official' positions and those with little or no direct involvement in the war.

it is wonderful also to hear about such great cross-curricular links within a school. we all get bombarded with literacy, numeracy and ict in history, isn't it lovely to hear other departments allowing pupils to use their historical interpretations skills :teacher: :teacher: :teacher:
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#12 jo norton

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 07:27 PM

Thanks for some fantastic lesson ideas Richard.

I wholeheartedly agree with you and Dan that WW1 is a topic rich in interpretations, which reminded me of a visual source - used in many textbooks a photo of a decomposing and broken body lying in the trench mud - usually captioned about the conditions of the war. If you look closely you can see that the arms are bent unnaturally at odd angles - and both are right handed, the photo was posed to show how bad the conditions were.

#13 John Simkin

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 05:13 AM

I wholeheartedly agree with you and Dan that WW1 is a topic rich in interpretations, which reminded me of a visual source - used in many textbooks a photo of a decomposing and broken body lying in the trench mud - usually captioned about the conditions of the war. If you look closely you can see that the arms are bent unnaturally at odd angles - and both are right handed, the photo was posed to show how bad the conditions were.

It is also important to consider the fact that there is a distinct shortage of photographs or paintings of dead British soldiers during the First World War. Only two photographers, both army officers, were allowed to take pictures of the Western Front. The penalty for anyone else caught taking a photograph of the war was the firing squad.

90 artists were employed by the government’s War Propaganda Bureau. One of the artists involved, Paul Nash, told a friend: "I am not allowed to put dead men into my pictures because apparently they don't exist". On another occasion he said: "I am no longer an artist. I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls."


Artists were allowed to paint dead German soldiers. See for example, William Orpen’s Dead Germans in a Trench (1917).

The most interesting war artist was Charles Nevinson. He did what he could about portraying the war as I really was. However, paintings such as Paths of Glory (showed dead soldiers) were considered to be unacceptable and were not exhibited until after the Armistice. His father, Henry Nevinson, was a journalist who also attempted to tell what was really going on. However, few of his reports managed to get past the government censors.


Writers employed by the War Propaganda Bureau (a secret organization) included Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield, Ford Madox Ford, William Archer, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Gilbert Parker, G. M. Trevelyan and H. G. Wells. The only one who is known to have refused is George Bernard Shaw.

Throughout the war these writers were commissioned to write poems, articles, books, pamphlets, etc. about the war. In the case of the books and pamphlets these publications were paid for by the government. This information was kept from the British public until 1926.

Ironically, one of the publishers involved in this scam was John Murray, the publishers of the SHP books.

Edited by John Simkin, 21 October 2003 - 05:16 AM.

#14 alison denton

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 05:02 PM

Very interesting on the World War One photos - but in what sense are these interpretations?

They do not seem to include that element of reflection, of deliberate attempt to explain the past that is necessary to qualify them as an interpretation.
They are someone's deliberate attempt to explain their present and are not interpretations therefore. I know this is a grey area, especially if you consider paintings which are from the time or very close to it.

This is where some of the confusion about interpretations lies, I feel. Thee is a lot of muddle about whether it is just a 'view' (anyone's), whether it is confined to sources (and indeed to historians), whether it is any different to dealing with 'ordinary' sources etc.

Richard suggests there must be an element of deliberate reflection - thus these photos don't qualify - they are 'just ordinary sources'.

#15 John Simkin

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 05:24 PM

Very interesting on the World War One photos - but in what sense are these        interpretations?

The War Propaganda Bureau was very concerned about the way the war would be interpreted. Therefore the organization attempted to control the images that would shape that interpretation. For example, the Imperial War Museum includes photographs of VC winners but no pictures of British dead bodies. I would argue that this is a particular interpretation of the war. I Interestingly I have seen plenty of pictures of dead Allied soldiers in French museums on the war. I am not sure what the policy was in France about taking pictures of dead bodies.

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