CFP: Teaching Graphic Novels?

Teaching Graphic Novels in English and Literature Courses
full name / name of organization:
Dr. Alissa Burger
contact email:
In the last couple of decades, comics and graphic novels have made their way into a wide variety of classrooms, from science to the humanities. As Robert G. Weiner and Carrye Kay Syma argue in ‘Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: Essays on the Educational Power of Sequential Art,’ “It is no longer a question of whether sequential art should be used in educational settings, but rather how to use it and for what purpose” (1).

This collection aims to highlight the diverse ways comics and graphic novels are used in English and literature classrooms, whether to develop critical thinking or writing skills, paired with a more traditional text, or as literature in their own right. From fictional stories to non-fiction works such as biography/memoir, history, or critical textbooks (such as Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Xander Cannon’s ‘Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing’), graphic narratives provide students a new way to look at the course material and the world around them. Graphic novels have been widely and successfully incorporated into composition and creative writing classes, introductory literature surveys, and upper-level literature seminars, and present unique opportunities for engaging students’ multiple literacies and critical thinking skills, as well as providing a way to connect to the terminology and theoretical framework of the larger disciplines of rhetoric, writing, and literature.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, using graphic narratives:
• To develop students’ visual literacy and critical thinking skills
• As a starting point for critical or creative writing and reflection
• Paired with a more traditional text to present a familiar/classic story in a new format, such as Classical Comics’ Shakespeare series or Fiona Macdonald and Penko Gelev’s graphic novel adaptation of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’
• As key standalone texts for the application of literary terminology and analysis
• To engage with varying perspectives of race, nationality, class, gender, or sexual orientation

Proposals are welcome addressing the incorporation of graphic novels in any level or type of English or literature class and should focus on a specific text or set of texts, the use of these works in the class, and the benefits to student learning.

Abstracts of proposed essays (500 words) and a brief CV should be submitted as Word attachments to Dr. Alissa Burger ( by February 1, 2016.

I am particularly interested in this as I have taught using graphic novels and I am hoping to teach a graduate rhetoric course on the visual fall of 2017.

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