A Public Service Announcement! ;)
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
*He begins talking about definitions of "visual language," many of which sounds fairly similar to WJT Mitchell's imagetext, but he is very discriminating in what qualifies as "visual language" for him.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Graphic novels are an increasingly popular format for stories told in a range of genres. While learning to read graphic novels takes practice, their artistic and literary merit makes the effort more than worthwhile.
In this month's episode of ReadWriteThink.org's Text Message podcast, host Jennifer Buehler offers An Introduction to Graphic Novels (M-S). Tune in to hear an introduction to the graphic novel form, including discussion of key works such as Maus and American Born Chinese. Then listen for specific recommendations of nine graphic novels, including fantasy epics, memoirs, biographies, and adventure thriller stories.
Interested in finding out more about graphic novels and their potential for enriching your students' literacy learning? These resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org provide a place to start.Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom (G)This article from the NCTE Council Chronicle offers an overview of the comic and graphic novel forms and suggests a wide range of applications in the classroom.
Graphic Novels in the Classroom (E-M)In this Language Arts article, in what is one of the first-ever journal articles in graphic novel format, educator and author of American Born Chinese Gene Yang makes a case for using graphic novels in classrooms.
Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Genre Study (E)The combination of the image and text (and relative brevity) of comic strips and comic books make them an excellent source of teaching material, as they explore language and meaning in a creative way. In this ReadWriteThink.org lesson, students will be examining the genre and subgenres of comics, their uses, and purposes.
Book Report Alternative: Comic Strips and Cartoon Squares (M)This ReadWriteThink.org lesson offers a new way to think about and respond to a work of literature. By creating comic strips or cartoon squares featuring characters in books, students are encouraged to think analytically about a work they've explored in ways that expand their critical thinking by focusing on the significant points of the book in a few short scenes.
Expanding Literacies through Graphic Novels (S)This article from English Journal offers a rationale, based on the need for current students to learn multiple literacies, for the use of graphic novels in the high school English class. The author highlights several titles, suggests possible classroom strategies, and discusses some of the obstacles teachers may face in adding graphic novels to their curriculum.
Gaining Background for the Graphic Novel Persepolis: A WebQuest on Iran (S)To prepare students for reading the graphic novel Persepolis, this ReadWriteThink.org lesson uses a WebQuest to focus students' research efforts on finding reliable information about Iran before and during the Islamic Revolution. In groups, students research and then present information on aspects of Iran such as politics, religion, and culture.
Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel by Panel (M-S)Each chapter of this book presents practical suggestions for the classroom as it pairs a graphic novel with a more traditional text or examines connections between multiple sources. The sample chapter includes teaching suggestions for pairing Spider-Man comics with Freak the Mighty and comments on teaching Maus I and Maus II.
Mapping Words and Images: Writing Graphic Novels with Adolescents (M-S)Presenters in this on-demand archived Web seminar describe how they use the graphic novel to get their students writing authentic, personal, and creative texts. Participants learn about excellent practical and classroom-tested ideas for using the graphic novel format to get students writing in new and exciting ways.
Taking (and Teaching) the Shoah Personally (C)Including discussion of Art Speigelman's Maus, this College English article describes the issues raised in a course on the Shoah that aimed to incorporate familial, historical, and rhetorical perspectives. The author is led to wonder whether the stories of those who underwent such experiences stand utterly outside critique and appropriation and may demand of us instead only that we never forget.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Another title on my reading list? Jaime Hernandez's Locas II, which I've pre-ordered and which should be here by mid-July.
I'm excited about reading all three titles. I recently read Gene Yang and D. Kim's latest triptych, The Eternal Smile. Not as good as American Born Chinese. Interesting and just as metaphysical. Fun, just not as instant a classic as Yang's first book. Still, I recommend checking it out. There's more critique of Western and American popular culture in there for those who loved that with ABC. And who doesn't enjoy a jab at Walt Disney?
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Onward to 20,000! Thanks to all my readers, worldwide!
Maupin has set up a blog to help get the word out about the book. I'm hoping they'll send me an advance copy so I can sing its praises -- maybe they'll even let me do a back cover blurb! Visit the promotional blog here.
The book should establish Katie as an important scholar in the comics-and-literacy field. She and I have been doing some collaborative work lately, and I hope to get to work with her more in the future. Please keep an eye and an ear out for more information on this title as it becomes available.
I'll certainly let you know my thoughts on it here when I can!
We did have several nice reviews and pieces of feedback, but in the end, a nasty negative review that will surely doom its writer to a special place in hell (wink!) and the less -positive other comments were the ones the NCTE contact sided with. Rather than spend more time looking for another publisher and waiting more months for more peer reviews,etc., I decided to disband the project. Too much time was wasted in waiting this go-'round, and I felt it more advantageous to cut losses and focus on potential wins.
So, despite the fact that my first book sold several thousand copies and is still selling, despite the fact that I am now an award-winning graphic novels educator, despite the fact that I am regarded well enough as an expert on the subject, despite the fact that NCTE awarded us a preliminary contract for MCG, despite the fact that Harvard Educational Press just released a book in which some of the ideas of our collection are alluded to (perfectly set up for us, actually), despite my previous publications also setting up ideas for the collection, and despite some very nice comments, the project is dead.
Or at least it is dead in its current form. For any of you readers who are involved in academia or might eventually want to consider publishing, let me share some advice via the actions I took after learning this news.
The advice stems from a seminar on academic publishing I attended while I was getting my Masters at the University of Tennessee. A very influential professor told the audience to publish fearlessly and to never let rejection hold one back. She mentioned having the envelope for the next publication possibility ready by the time the rejection letter came. I've taken the advice to heart.
So, immediately after receiving the news, I drove to my office and reworked my two chapters to the book, both of which were reviewed favorably overall, and submitted them to journals. Within five hours of a rejection, I had already sent out two other possibilities for future success.
The rest of the day was spent contacting contributors and suggesting outlets they might consider for their chapters as well. I might not be able to help their tenure files via a book, but at least I did offer peer review, peer editing, and suggestions for individual success. It wasn't fun work, but I made it a situation where I could still do what I loved so much about being a general editor in the first place: offer help and opportunities to other academics.
I urge those interested in academic publishing to adapt a similar attitude. I know there are those who want publishing to be an anxiety-ridden process, who will tell you that if you send out a sub-par article, the editor will remember you forever and it will ruin your reputation. While not impossible, and while one should always attempt to send out work as polished as one could get it, if an editor at a journal is so petty as to actually try to remember a work that wasn't deemed publication worthy, that editor 1. is not adequately serving the authors of articles that were accepted and 2. probably doesn't have enough work to do; otherwise, they'd know to forget what isn't directly relevant to the success of their journals in progress.
Now, I was able to use reviewer comments to tweak my drafts. I was also able to share reviewer praise for the articles when informing journal editors of its previous attempted life. Based on the positive comments in peer review, I have no reason not to think that both of these articles will eventually find publication. I may be wrong, of course, but I'll keep at it until I'm satisfied, until my attention is on other projects, or until I self-publish the work on my blog, which is always an option, though not necessarily the best one for my tenure file.
Frankly, success in academic publishing means following the "where there's a will, there's a way" mantra. If one can at least pretend (acting, my friend! It's all in the performance!) to conquer their fears and anxieties, if one can realize that there's always the next opportunity, and if one tries to capitalize on feedback in a quick, responsive manner -- even letting the immediate emotional anger or frustration be what provides the drive to take reasoned, responsible action --, one can have success. If you have something important to say and work to say it well, eventually, two out of three reviewers or however many it takes will help you find a place to say it.
Am I disappointed? Yes. Do I feel like I failed my contributors? To some extent. But am I defeated? Pshhht!!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Keep up the good work, Mr. Mason and kids! :)
p.s. Thanks to S.K. for sending me this info!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The person told me that even they feel we're starting to focus less on literature and more on reading.
I was dumbfounded, but also happy to have the case so easily qualified for me. For the life of me, I can't figure out any good reason (I know plenty of bad ones) why educated people who have made a life of letters or who enjoy teaching literature can't understand that literaCY is the prerequisite to truly engaging in and understanding literatURE.
Focusing on literature without considerations of reading, simply for the sake of preservation of a field or any other reason, is like teaching a portrait painting class without asking the students to take figure drawing or asking them to learn basic elements of shape and design. It's like assuming that students don't need to know how to multiply to do Calculus.
If the issue at hand really can be traced to worry about moving away from literature and towards reading, the solution to the "problem" is simple:
Stop viewing reading and literature as separate constructs. Instead, favoring the logical, sensible -- dare I even say it "common sense' -- notion that literature and literacy, great books and reading proficiency, are always intricately intermeshed, and our pedagogy concerning teaching all types of literature and media ought always to be based in this premise.
This article, "Death to the Classics!", which was the headliner for today's NCTE Inbox, isn't quite as sensationalist as it sounds. Though it mentions multiculturalism and adding women and minority voices to traditional canons as though it was/is a "fad" and seems to downplay the importance of media texts like film, it does offer a variety of perspectives on canons and acceptable reading in k-12 classroom.
The rhetoric from some of those quoted, however, gives the piece an ominous, reactionary tone. NCTE president-elect/ Maker-of-the-members-to-be-saying "Can I take Back My Vote, Please" Carol Jago is at it again, claiming teachers have just given up on teaching canonical texts.
It's as if she's asserting, "If they would just try harder, they could get those kids reading at the second grade level in those 12th grade classrooms to read and understand every word of Moby Dick." Got no fluency? Take you ten minutes to read a 100 word paragraph? Buck up; there's magic somewhere that'll fix it all: teachers just gotta scrounge around for it.
One of the first lessons I learned as a classroom teacher in a class full of struggling readers is that there is no magic wand that makes it all better. Effort and motivation are important, yes. But the "you just gotta try harder and that's it" argument is meeting one form of ignorance (not knowing, as in not knowing how to read successfully) with another (blind, stupid stubbornness).
I am beginning to know what it would feel like if Sara Palin was ever sworn in to office.
Anyone know if Jago can see Russia from her house?
Some sort of researcher (it is never clarified what she researches) Sandra Stotsky is "horrified" of the "disaster" of kids reading popular texts instead of canonical texts. Again, the idiot "either/or" dichotomy. Like there's no way for them to do both!!! An English professor (not an education professor, or even an English education professor) from Emory complains that students need a core experience, another Cultural Literacy reference that is diminutive in its focus (why is it that so often these days Cultural Literacy arguments are reductive? It's as if speakers want us to see them as idiots. MEMO: Critical literacy and Cultural literacy can and should interact/intersect. Again, it's not an either/or proposition. Multiple texts and experiences can coexist. Even E.D. Hirsch knows that, deep down!).
Thank goodness for Kylene Beers and Robert Probst and an actual practicing k-12 teacher bringing another side to the story, talking about how students need and want to read texts beyond the fiction-heavy titles on most reading lists and/or featuring characters to whom they can more easily relate than are featured in many "classics." Beers experienced for herself the same feelings of "magic effort will be the cure" that I did when she taught struggling reader conglomerant figure George (see her book What to Do When Kids Can't Read) to understand what I mean); Probst is keen enough to even talk about how some of his best readers were poor students who might not have been able to read a novel on grade-level but were excellent social decoders and had a street fluency beyond his own abilities.
It's scary: one can read this article and almost see sides forming. If the alarmists keep with their tone, the rest of us may have to pull together to make sure the last vestiges of sense aren't ran out of education studies. Nationally, we were just plunged back to the 1890s in almost every aspect of American life. Now, folks who should know better seem intent on having us revisit pedagogies associated with the turn of the wrong century as well.
"Sides" often equates to "bifurcation." As frustrated as I am to read some of the alarmism, and as much as it alarms me, I know it is important not to go too far in creating alarmist text in reaction to them. That will just push apart and lose too much of what we need for common ground. If those of us who are against the rhetoric that is popping up concerning a return to a stolid Cultural Literacy don't keep our cool, we'll fall on far "other side" of the "either/or" spectrum. Let's critique these statements when they are made. Let's discuss their absurdity and danger, but let us not push against them so hard that we lose the sense of commonality that will keep outsiders from looking at us and wondering what a bunch of idiots we are.
Hmmm... perhaps that's the overall goal: a larger force wants us to eat ourselves from the inside so they can take over with the support of the masses; swoop in and fix the mess it instigated/created. That can't happen with a Democrat in office, can it? Hmmm... I'll just consider "conspiracy theories" to be too much of an extreme possibility.... for now..... But it would be awfully opportune to declare education broken at a time when teachers and teacher educators are squabbling amongst themselves. It'd be easy to "shake things up" after shaking things up...... Yeesh, and I thought things were getting scary before I started to extrapolate! ;)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Here is what I wrote in my response to my the co-author, with their original text not included for the sake of privacy:
I have strong thoughts on how people are viewing narrative, comics, and linearity that might surprise [folks]...
People talk about graphic novels as nonlinear texts and think that this nonlinearity is an important "special" feature of the form that helps inform thought about narrative and sets the form apart. I do not agree completely because of how the arguments are often framed (i.e. incompletely and in "either/or" talk). The problem is that comics are linear and are read linearly, and I and others would argue that narrative will always be linear. Even formed thought, and especially formed thought put to paper, has a progression to it in that there are points of beginning-middle-and end. Fuzzy sometimes, sure, but they're there.
The simultaneity issue [----] is key to the understanding/misunderstanding comics as nonlinear texts: It's not that they aren't linear; it is that they are linear while simultaneously being nonlinear. :)
If by no other frame than that a person starts reading at one moment in time, progresses through measurable time in his/her reading, and then stops, a linear narrative is formed.
Even if they stop, go back, and re-read. Even if the comic is beset with flashbacks and flash forwards and cut screens. These flash forwards and flashbacks and cut screens still have their specific places in the overall narrative. The reading can be measured with a clear beginning and ending.
Now, within the linearity of the reading of the comic, there may be any number of splinters and breaks and fusions, via a re-reading or simply due to the nature of the form, what Thierry Groensteen calls the iconic solidarity of the form, the space-place of the panels and pages, which are always framed by narrative frames, even if they are cognitive. As is often the case with theories of reading that come from outside literacy studies but somehow end up influencing them, many are forgetting that there is an actual social interaction with the text, something that Rosenblatt still doesn't get her proper kudos among contemporary theorists for pointing out (but let us all drool over Barthes, who is saying similar things).
.... I can tell you that education folks are starting to get interested in that notion of the "specialness" of the graphic novels, but I have to admit that even as a proponent of the form, I think people have jumped the gun too early on thoughts of "uniqueness" tied to narrative and linearity because they want to see something that is there but don't want to acknowledge that something can be there and not be there simultaneously.
All in all, the most rational argument for anything high-end theory dealing with comics that I feel can be made today is this: "It is but it isn't but it is."
.....I've been thinking for a long time on these issues of narrative, linearity, simultaneity, and what we might call the growing "fascination with fallacies" concerning comic art that have yet to be named as such.
OK, so maybe you heard it here first: "it is but it isn't but it is." Educators are wanting to focus on what the graphic novel can do that other forms can't. Well, that's all fine and good, but let's get it right before we start labeling things and let us not continually fall victim to our simplistic either/or thinking, which permeates even language and theory that sounds high-end but is just as susceptible to wrongheadedness.
It's just as important that sequential art can do things that other forms can do while doing things that maybe they can't as it is to try to highlight what makes the form unique. Not noting this important aspect leaves us vulnerable to making statements that are ill-formed and incomplete and may lead to the development of "fallacies of fascination" concerning forms that education folks might see as "new" but that in actuality have been emerging for centuries.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Now, in a bit of round robin, the TSA has found a script of the comic Unthinkable to be a scary item. TSA detained writer Mark Sable when they found the script in his bag. What is Unthinkable about? The Beat's Heidi McDonald describes its premise as such: " a government think tank spends its time thinking up possible terrorist scenarios."
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Run by Hawthorne High art teachers Allan Rosenberg and Da nielle Russo and the wonderful students of the Cartooning Club,the convention is held as a fundraiser to supplement the art department’s budget, thus making it possible do even greater things for the art students of the high school.
Awesome thinking, Teachers and kids!
The Ohio State University received a gift of $1 million from Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz to support the renovation of Sullivant Hall, the future home of the world’s most comprehensive academic research facility dedicated to documenting printed cartoon art.
Along with her generous gift, Mrs. Schulz issued a challenge: She will provide an additional matching gift of $2.5 million if Ohio State raises the same amount from other sources, making the total impact of her gift $6 million....
Get the full scoop here.