Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Power of Para-sites: Graphic Novels in the Classroom

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

Juvenal, Satire VI (347–8)

What do you think about graphic novels?

What are graphic novels?

This week at university, I led a seminar-workshop exploring the ways in which graphic novels can be used in the KS3-KS5 classroom to support the curriculum. Schwartz (2006) argues that “in a media-dominated society, one traditional literacy – reading and writing of print – is no longer sufficient”. We are bombarded and saturated with images and so we need to find different ways of capturing the attention and the imagination of the young people we teach. Graphic novels can be used as a gateway to access personalised learning via multimodality: the reader can decide where to begin and how long to look. They can choose to look at the words or the images first – or take in the whole page as an integrated design. With their thematic connections, social dilemmas, and interdisciplinary cross-curricular connections with English, art, history, and design and technology, graphic novels can be used to explore and negotiate traditional themes in a new and engaging way  – not only to support EAL / SEN students, but to extend the more able through companion literature and comparison.

If comics, graphic novels, and manga “can create a bridge that is wide, stable, heavily trafficked, and easy to cross” (Wilson, 2005), perhaps graphic novels are not these “sub-literary parasites”, traditionally discarded and banished to the wastes of non-canonical ridicule, but can instead be regarded as “para-sites” –  accessible and engaging entities that run parallel to the main site of the national curriculum.

For more detailed information and title suggestions, please find the link to my presentation below: