A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

IRA Pre-Conference Institute, We Hardly Knew Ye

This April 25, there was supposed to be an all-day preconference institute on the graphic novel at the International Reading Association's conference in Chicago, IL. Katie Monnin organized the event, which featured many leading figures in comics-and-literacy scholarship, such as Michael Bitz, Katie, yours truly, and others, as well as actual comics creators/graphic novelists and leaders from the publishing field.

Alas, after almost all arrangements were made, including flights and hotel room bookings, we received word that the event was cancelled. (Thank goodness I was able to cancel my room reservations without penalty and my university was able to eat the cost of the plane ticket. Others might not have been so lucky).The reason given was low numbers of folks registering.

Only a sign of the economy, something more, or a combination of factors? Who is to say?

I'm sure there will be folks at IRA talking about graphic novels. I hope they enjoy being the representative experts, as I'm sure they will have great things to say and will give wonderful presentations, but nothing on the program regarding the topic could have equalled the combined knowledge and interests of the group Katie assembled. It's a missed opportunity not just for the presenters, but for IRA and its audience at the conference.

Of course, IRA is a selective group (I say everything herein as a current member) , and there seem to be channels to make sure things happen within its influence (this selectivity as it pertains to comics and literacy, might be observed by looking at the works cited lists of the articles on graphic novels that have appeared in JAAL over the last eight months or so. Got some time? Look at the names that are cited over and over, and also apply your knowledge of the arguments being made regarding comics and literacy and who all are making them, and compare who is being noted and who isn't). Perhaps those of us involved just didn't know how to best utilize those channels.

BUT, I can tell you the institute is not dead yet. Not its mission , members, and desires, anyway. Simply reformed. Some members will be at the convention in other capacities. And other plans to keep the collection of talent together to make their points and share their expertise are afoot. More as more develops!

(Picture: According to this paperwork from IRA, which arrived in my mailbox the day after I received the news that the pre-conference session was cancelled, I'm all good to go for my trip to Chicago, where I would have joined perhaps the best single group of comics and literacy scholars ever assembled in one place)

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