EN/SANE World

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bridging Ideas using Big Fat Little Lit, Best American Comics, Smithsonian Collection

This semester's crop of bridging activities from my English 3349: "Dramatic Modes of English Language Arts" class are perhaps some of the most intriguing I've ever seen.


The skinny: Students have to take a story they read from Big Fat Little Lit, The Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories, or one of the Best American Comics anthologies and think of a way they could use the story as a thematic bridge to set up instruction of a more canonical text.

Regarding bridges stemming from the Little Lit collection:

April felt that Barbara McClintock's interpretation of "The Princess and the Pea" could be used as a bridge to Shakespeare's Pericles, since both deal with fate and coincidence in one way or another. Jonathan also wrote on the same fairy tale but bridged it to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight since both deal with the concept of questioning one's authenticity.


Kenneth saw connections between Milton's Paradise Lost and "The Baker's Daughter" since characters in both experience a sort of fall from grace and a transformation of kinds based on their behavior.



Brenda kept the British Lit mojo alive by suggesting bridging to Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130" -- you know, the one about the mistress who is lovely to the speaker but not necessarily to anyone else -- and "Pretty Ugly."

Rita found the theme of destiny vs. free will in "The Enchanted Pumpkin" and felt it could be used to build prior knowledge of the theme as it is represented in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.

Sandra saw connections between Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and "The Several Selves of Selby Sheldrake." She'd use the comic to discuss multiple identities, especially as they relate to Arthur Dimmesdale, who is many things to many people.


"Broken promises" comprise a theme that can bridge "The Fisherman and the Sea Princess" to Marie de France's Lanval, says Angela.

Thomas found Kaz's "The Hungry Horse" a perfect companion for Crane's "The Open Boat" since both deal with forms of irony. Irony isn't a theme, of course, but there are all sorts of connections regarding depravity and choices in these two texts, which Thomas pointed out when we discussed our bridges in class.


Vanessa chose a selection from the Smithsonian collection. She saw connections between Will Eisner's "Izzy the Cockroach" and Kafka's Metamorphosis, and not just because the two feature bugs as main characters. Gregor and Jacob also have many similarities in how they deal with life's angsts. I was very impressed.

Hilda also had a very intriguing thematic bridge. She pulled hers from the exquisite collection Best American Comics 2008. Hilda wanted to bridge Carre's "The Thing About Madeline" to Midsummer Night's Dream and even suggested the song "Time of the Season" by The Zombies as another textual link in the bridge. The big theme seemed to be "Who are you, really?" if I read Hilda correctly.

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7 Comments:

  • I would have loved a class like this as an undergrad :-)

    By Blogger Ben Villarreal, at 7:13 PM  

  • I'm not sure all my students feel the same way you say you would, Ben, but I'll take the kind words. :)

    By Blogger Bucky C., at 10:15 PM  

  • Bucky -- I know how you feel. But the ones you feature here must feel wonderful about themselves and what they can do. That excerpt from the "madeline" text makes me very curious to see the whole. The shadow image is so provocative and makes me think of lots of connections. and "Metamorphosis" is just about my favorite book -- I'd never seen this cover art --
    marilyn

    By Anonymous mjh, at 10:51 AM  

  • Thanks for the post, mjh. I sent this bridging link to Toon Books and got a reply from an "fm" saying that when she sees work like this from students, she is very hopeful for the future of education. I shared that with my students in class and told them there was only one "fm" at Toon Books. That person's a certain editor of The New Yorker and married to the author of Maus, etc. That response got them feeling pretty proud as well, I think. :)

    By Blogger Bucky C., at 12:27 PM  

  • Wow. That's amazing! That would be like Scott McCloud commenting on my comics class' blog--something I secretly pray for and dream about at the beginning of each semester ;-)

    For the record, few students feel the same way about stuff as I did ;-) And don't be rough on yourself; I rarely appreciated the great classes I was in when I was in then. It comes with experience, when you realized how prepared you are :-)

    By Blogger Ben Villarreal, at 4:07 PM  

  • Do a search for "Scott McCloud visits Hattiesburg" here at ensane, then copy and paste the url in the second comment, and you'll see that I've come close to living the dream you mention. :)

    Also, again, thanks for the kind words.

    By Blogger Bucky C., at 6:02 PM  

  • So...You suck, and I hate you ;-)

    That's really awesome. I periodically check his website to see if he's coming anywhere near here. Sadly, no :-)

    By Blogger Ben Villarreal, at 11:20 PM  

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