Wednesday, December 5, 2012



Recommended Texts

A student in my first-year seminar requested I post a list of recommended reading, and viewing, so here goes:


Kurt Vonnegut

Margaret Atwood

Milan Kundera

Paul Theroux

Cormac McCarthy

John Irving

Barbara Kingsolver

Ralph Ellison

James Baldwin


Cat's Cradle (Breakfast of Champions), Kurt Vonnegut

The Handmaid's Tale (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood), Margaret Atwood

No Country for Old Men (The Road, All the Pretty Horses), Cormac McCarthy

A Prayer for Owen Meany, (The World According to Garp) John Irving

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

Millenium Trilogy (The Girl series), Stieg Larsson

Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

1Q84, Haruki Murakami

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje


Raising Arizona (No Country for Old Men, all Coen Brothers films)

I Am Sam

Notting Hill

The American (novel also)

Blade Runner

A River Runs through It




Comics/Graphic Novels

Batman: Year One

Cerebus (series)

Daredevil: The Man without Fear

The Sandman (series), Gaiman

V for Vendetta

* Just a taste in all categories, FYI

The Art of Being Still -

The Art of Being Still -

Monday, November 12, 2012

Final Portfolio

ALL Essays must have at least one rewrite submitted BEFORE Friday November 30.

Final Portfolio must include the following:

(1) A final reflection [label:] that includes the following:

• An analysis of your writing STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES. Identify with examples, and discuss how you plan to build on the strengths and work on the weaknesses.

• An analysis of your WRITING PROCESS, including how that process is effective and how you should revise that process to be a better academic writer.

• How well you have achieved the goals of the FYW as well as the goals of the "habits of mind." How could the FYW have better supported you achieving those goals? [See HEREHERE, and HERE]

(2) Select THREE of your four original essays and submit them in FINAL draft form as attachments and RANK these as1, 2, 3 in order to weight them for final grade; label as follows:




Thursday, October 11, 2012

'A Wrinkle in Time' receives the graphic novel treatment -

'A Wrinkle in Time' receives the graphic novel treatment -

A Mid-term Friday Gift


Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.
I came along,
I wrote a song for you,
And all the things you do,
And it was called "Yellow."
So then I took my turn,
Oh what a thing to have done,
And it was all "Yellow."
Your skin,
Oh yeah your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
You know, you know I love you so,
You know I love you so.
I swam across,
I jumped across for you,
Oh what a thing to do.
Cos you were all "Yellow,"
I drew a line,
I drew a line for you,
Oh what a thing to do,
And it was all "Yellow."
Your skin,
Oh yeah your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
And you know,
For you I'd bleed myself dry,
For you I'd bleed myself dry.
It's true,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine.
Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And all the things that you do.
A Rush of Blood to the Head

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets, and ask me your questions
Oh let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming in tails
Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start.

I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
And tell me you love me, come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start
Running in circles, chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start

Ooooohhhhhhh [x4]

Squirrel Anime!

squirrel-anime.gif (550×464)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mike Rose's Blog: Writing about Teaching and Learning through the Details of Classroom Life

Mike Rose's Blog: Writing about Teaching and Learning through the Details of Classroom Life

Archcomix by Dan Archer - Full Marks to the Education Reform Comic Backers – and news of a new project, starting tomorrow!

Archcomix by Dan Archer - Full Marks to the Education Reform Comic Backers – and news of a new project, starting tomorrow!

Coldplay Official Store | Pre-Order Mylo Xyloto Comic Series (Six issues)*

Coldplay Official Store | Pre-Order Mylo Xyloto Comic Series (Six issues)*

Coldplay - Hurts Like Heaven - YouTube

Coldplay - Hurts Like Heaven - YouTube

We All Lose Out on Great Media When Racial and Sexual Diversity Is Lacking

We All Lose Out on Great Media When Racial and Sexual Diversity Is Lacking

Discordia's Gonzo Journos Analyze, Illustrate Greece's Deep Debt Crisis | Underwire |

Discordia's Gonzo Journos Analyze, Illustrate Greece's Deep Debt Crisis | Underwire |

Discordia's Gonzo Journos Analyze, Illustrate Greece's Deep Debt Crisis | Underwire |

Discordia's Gonzo Journos Analyze, Illustrate Greece's Deep Debt Crisis | Underwire |

Recommended Comics for Schools: Pippi Moves In, An Inspector Calls, District Comics, A Chinese Life

Recommended Comics for Schools: Pippi Moves In, An Inspector Calls, District Comics, A Chinese Life

Best American Comics: the Notable Comics of 2012 (and a giveaway) | Drawing Words Writing Pictures

Best American Comics: the Notable Comics of 2012 (and a giveaway) | Drawing Words Writing Pictures

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Essays « Anne Elizabeth Moore

Essays « Anne Elizabeth Moore

On Being Nice but Writing the Truth « Anne Elizabeth Moore

On Being Nice but Writing the Truth « Anne Elizabeth Moore

Mid-term: Self-evaluation and reflection

Due before class October 12, 2012, as an attachment to an email:

Write a self-evaluation and reflection addressing the following (give specific evidence to all points made):

Discuss your engagement with the course so far (including your assigned texts, writing assignments, class participation). Also identify the quality of your work; please assign yourself a letter grade at the mid-term. Consider explaining how you have grown in the course so far (connect with what has prompted that growth), what you have learned from Style, and what you have learned from Dr. Thomas's class discussions/comments as well as feedback on your essay and in your conference(s). Please rate your experience with your two required texts (did you enjoy, did you learn from them, would you recommend their being assigned next FYW). Feel free to identify how the course has not supported your learning and growth, as well as what you would like to change for the second half of the course.

This self-evaluation and reflection may include any feedback you feel will enhance your success in the course and support better instruction from Dr. Thomas.

* Please identify the adaptation unit you have chosen to examine during the second half of the course.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Letter from Birmingham City Jail, MLK

Letter from Birmingham City Jail, MLK

Rhetorical strategies:

(1) Allusion

(2) Parallelism

(3) Authority

(4) Rhetorical question

(5) Aphorism

(6) Repetition

(7) Figurative Language

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tips and Suggestions: Essay 1 and Beyond

Resource for revision: Conventional Language

(a) When revising, increase your focus on your level of craft in your writing.

For example, how are you framing your essay? Effective essays often create a motif, pattern, or rhetorical strategy at the beginning and the end of the essay and then use some element of that frame to give the essay cohesion (in high school, you probably thought of that as a thesis).

(b) Begin to challenge yourself as a writer by demanding precise word choice. How careful are you being with your verbs (how often are you using "to be" and "to get" forms when a dynamic and concrete verb would be more effective)?

(c) Be able to identify your intended tone, and then take that your word choice and syntax (word order) maintain and support that intended tone (even if you tone shifts, you must control that shift with appropriate word choice and the rhythm of your writing).

(d) Take care with pronouns. Is your use of "it" effective and clear? Especially note pronoun/antecedent agreement (11): If you establish a singular primary reference ("the person," for example), the following reference must remain singular ("she/he," not "they").

(e) Always drive your writing by being specific. Vague is always a failure in writing as it is the result of careless omission of information. Ambiguous is purposeful, and can be very effective. Specific always works. Always. The writer's job is ultimately to engage and communicate, not baffle and alienate.

(f) This cannot be stressed enough: Making a claim is insufficient; a claim is simply a start to any conversation. Once you make a claim as a writer, you must provide evidence and elaboration to make your case clear and powerful. The vast majority of any non-fiction piece will tend to be the evidence and elaboration. A string of claims without evidence or elaboration is the sign of novice (and likely careless, purposeless) writer.

When revising, read your own piece (or have a peer or two read it) and mark your claims. Then, evaluate how many claims you make and how much care you take to prove those claims are valid, credible, and worth your readers' time.

(g) As you approach a final version of each essay, begin to take better care with formatting your final document and take extra care to use the formatting features of your word processing program. For this course, your style sheet guideline is APA, but always note the expectations of any writing assignment in varying settings.

(h) Don't ignore paragraph and sentence variety. Readers respond much better to short, rather than long, paragraphs (forget what you learned in high school). And both paragraph and sentence length are enhanced by seeking to use variety of lengths but above all else appropriateness of length to the meaning of the paragraph and sentence. Young writers tend to associate rhythm with the concerns of a poet or lyricist, but prose writers take care with rhythm also.

A Note on Graphic Journalism

A Note on Graphic Journalism

The New Life of the Comic Book

The New Life of the Comic Book

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies

Essay 1 Conference Schedule

PLEASE arrange a conference for essay 1 by choosing a day/time from those listed below; conferences will be in my office (Hipp Hall 101F, go LEFT once you enter HH, opposite HH 106 where our class meets; enter the Education Suite, take second left in suite and my office is in the farthest back right-hand corner):

MONDAY September 10

9:30-10 -- Jake Saine
10:30-11 -- Cal Burns

1:30-2 -- Laura McMullan
2:30-3 -- Yan Chow
3-3:30 -- Adam Smith
3:30-4 -- Timmy Millison

TUESDAY September 11

8:30-9 X
9-9:30 X
9:30-10 X
10:30-11 -- Kara Degroote

1:30-2 -- Savannah Jennings
2:30-3 -- Danni Yuan

WEDNESDAY September 12


1:30-2 --Caroline Anderson

THURSDAY September 13



FRIDAY September 14


1-1:30 -- Colin Pitts
1:30-2 -- Lily Statzer

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Essay submission guidelines

Each essay must be submitted the first due date as follows:

(1) Attach as Word files both at least one draft of the essay (label file: E1.draft.docx) and the first "final" submission (lable: Name.E1.09712.docx , note that you should label each essay other than drafts with date submitted after essay number and your actual last name).

(2) Once each essay is submitted, and after the conference addressing that essay, you must submit the revised essay at least once and as often as you like (label revised essays as follows: Name.E1RW.091412.docx, Name.E1RW2.092112.docx, etc.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prompt Analysis for Genre Awareness (A. M. Johns)

Prompt Analysis for Genre Awareness*

To the students: As you prepare to write, revise, and edit, consider these questions, particularly if you are given a writing task in your academic classroom:

[Note: If you cannot answer these questions from the task you have been given, how do you find out the answers?]

1. GENRE NAME: What is this text called (its genre name)? What do you already think you know about what a text from this genre looks and ‘sounds’ like? For example, how should the text be organized? What kind of language do you need to use?

2. PURPOSE: What are you supposed to DO as a writer when completing this task? Are you asked to make an argument? To inform? To describe or list?

3. CONTEXT: If you are writing this task in, or for, a classroom, what do you know about the context? What does the discipline require for a text? Under what conditions will you be writing? For example, are you writing a timed, in-class response?

4. WRITER’S ROLE: Who are you supposed to BE in this prompt? A knowledgeable student? Someone else?

5. AUDIENCE: Is your audience specified? If it is your instructor, what are his or her expectations and interests? What goals for students does the instructor have?

6. CONTENT: What are you supposed to write about? Where do you find this content? In your textbook? In lectures? Are you supposed to relate what you have heard or read in some way?

7. SOURCES: What, and how many, sources are you supposed to draw from to write your text? Have the sources been provided in the class? Are you supposed to look elsewhere? Are the sources primary or secondary?

8. OTHER SPECIFICATIONS: What else do you know about the requirements for this text? How long should it be? What referencing style (MLA, APA) should you use? What font type?

9. ASSESSMENT: How will your paper be graded? What does the instructor believe is central to a good response? How do you know? If you don’t know, how can you find out?

10. MAKING THE TEXT YOUR OWN: What about the paper you write can be negotiated with the instructor? Can you negotiate the topic? The types of sources used? The text structure? If you can negotiate your assignment, it might be much more interesting to you.

* Created and published in Johns, A. M. (2008). Genre awareness for the novice academic student: An on-going questLanguage Teaching, 41(2), 237-252.

BBC News - Viewpoint: The spectre of plagiarism haunting Europe

BBC News - Viewpoint: The spectre of plagiarism haunting Europe

Sunday, May 6, 2012


From CHALLENGING GENRES: Comics and Graphic Novels, P. L. Thomas (Sense, 2010)



Bender, L. (1944). The psychology of children's reading and the comics. Journal of Educational Sociology, 18(4), 223-231.

Looking at comics as an M. D., Bender associates the reasons children are (in the 1940s) drawn to comics. She acknowledges the importance of fantasy in the normal development of children and sees comics as a healthy outlet for children's fantasies. Bender details some problems that could occur if comics address issues beyond the ability of children to handle, but on balance, paints a positive picture of comics as matching the needs and interests in children. She ends by discussing the major superhero characters of the 1940s, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, concluding: "Great adaptability and fluidity in dealing with social and cultural problems, continuity through characters who deal with the individual's essential-psychological involvement with these problems, and experimental attitude and technique—these are the positive qualities of the comics" (p. 231).

Frank, J. (1949, December). Some questions and answers for teachers and parents. Journal of Educational Sociology, 23(4), 206-214.

As his title suggests, Frank addresses the variety of opinions and evidence concerning comics—quality of comics as a medium/genre, comics impact on learning to read, eye strain for children reading comics, comics influence on emotions of children, comics and juvenile delinquency, and comics as an empty habit. While Frank acknowledges a variety of opinions about comics, on balance he portrays comics positively and allays most negative beliefs about the medium/genre, concluding, "Comics-reading can constitute one—but one among many—ways of satisfying these perfectly normal needs of childhood" (p. 214).

Frank, J. (1944). What's in the comics? Journal of Educational Sociology, 18(4), 214-222.

Frank notes that children widely enjoy and read comics but that many adults find that attraction controversial. Frank details a study that shows a wide variety among comic books, emphasizing that blanket statements about comics are misleading. Comics, Frank explains, reflect topics and genres common in more traditional children's literature. Children enjoy comics because they offer what children find interesting, adds Frank. Frank believes an interest in comics, parallel to an interest in film, contributes positively to a child's overall literacy development—although comics are again portrayed as a weaker medium/genre. Frank concludes that comics meet children's interest in the here-and-now with both topics and language and the only concern Frank offers is "excessive [emphasis in original] comics reading" with a focus on the "excessive" and not the comics (p. 222).

Gruenberg, S. (1944). The comics as a social force. Journal of Educational Sociology, 18(4), 204-213.

Gruenberg's discussion reflects the power and abundance of comic books in 1940s America. Gruenberg offers a mixed message on comics, describing them as a weak medium/genre but noting that many media/genres (such as film) are unfairly discounted in their early manifestations. Also, Gruenberg identifies the influence of the market over what comics produce, suggesting that with time comics would mature into a credible medium/genre. Gruenberg endorses using comics positively in educational settings and cites several examples of comics having positive messages and important themes.

Hutchinson, K. H. (1949, December). An experiment in the use of comics as instructional material. Journal of Educational Sociology, 23(4), 236-245.

Describing a study of using comic strips in education, Hutchinson argues for including students' out-of-school interests in school. The study presented overall positive results of using comic strips to teach a wide variety of lesson, especially "in special classes and for slow learning pupils in regular classes" (p. 240). The article listed 18 useful comic strips by grade level for educators as well.

Schultz, H. E. (1949, December). Censorship or self regulation? Journal of Educational Sociology, 23(4), 215-224.

Schultz contextualizes an endorsement of comics within the criticism leveled at comics by Sterling North and Dr. Fredric Wertham, both gaining a fair amount of fame and notoriety in the 1940s and into the 1950s. Schultz characterizes the revolt against comics as hysteria and wrote vigorously against any efforts to censor the medium/genre. Schultz supported comics both as an endorsement of free speech and of the potential of comics to develop into "a constructive force for entertainment and education in our society" (p. 224).

Sones, W. (1944). The comics and instructional method. Journal of Educational Sociology, 18(4), 232-240.

Sones begins by placing comics in a line of popular media—film and radio—that have value for teachers. A key point by Sones is the popularity of comics in the 1940s suggests comics deserve serious attention. This article identifies a number of studies and applications of using comics in educational settings, concluding that comics should be used in the classroom. Sones also details a study of using Wonder Woman in the classroom.

Strang, R. (1943). Why children read the comics. The Elementary School Journal, 43(6), 336-342.

Strang details a study of what and why children read comics at many grade levels. Strang offers several arguments for and against the use of comics. The study reveals what comics students were reading in the 1940s and why they did so, including a few comments by students who did not enjoy comics. The article concludes recommending moderation and not banning in the reading of comics by children, suggesting that children use comics as they move on to more mature choices for reading and entertainment.

Thrasher, F. M. (1949, December). The comics and delinquency: Cause or scapegoat. Journal of Educational Sociology, 23(4), 195-205.

Thrasher opens by rejecting claims of single causes for human violence and crime, noting that flaw in the claims of Wertham. Thrasher places Wertham's claims in the context of several single causes identified in the field up until the late 1940s, including poverty and films. Ultimately, Thrasher concludes: "We may criticize Wertham's conclusions on many grounds, but the major weakness of his position is that it is not supported by research data" (p. 201). Thrasher ends by suggesting that simplistic attacks on comics may in fact keep people from seriously considering the impact of parents and society on children.

Witty, P. (1941a). Children's interest in reading the comics. The Journal of Experimental Education, 10(2), 100-104.

Witty reports the result of a study identifying the amount of comics reading by children. Interesting in this study from the 1940s is that comics "appear[ed] to be the most popular of all [emphasis in original] reading pursuits" by children (p. 103).

Witty, P. (1941b). Reading comics: A comparative study. The Journal of Experimental Education, 10(2), 105-109.

Witty expands his discussion of a study of the interests of children concerning comics. Witty details a large amount of data on children's reading of comics, but finds no basis for claiming comics are a negative influence on children.

Zorbaugh, H. (1944). The comics—There they stand! Journal of Educational Sociology, 18(4), 196-203.

Zorbaugh identifies comics as a new but influential medium/genre in his discussion. In the early 1940s, comics were just over a decade old as a form but were pervasive in American society among all age groups, including being a significant part of military life. Zorbaugh notes that comic characters and language were impacting popular culture. Zorbaugh ends by declaring comics "are here to stay," thus worthy of our serious consideration (p. 203).

Zorbaugh, H. (1949b, December). What adults think of comics as reading for children. Journal of Educational Sociology, 23(4), 225-235.

Placing his discussion in the context of the 1940s controversy over the reading of comics by children, Zorbaugh details a study of adults' attitudes about comics and children reading comics. Overall, the study shows that adults believed comics were suitable for children, but the study, according to Zorbaugh, revealed a healthy debate about the issues. Zorbaugh ends with nothing that many adults, especially those who read comics themselves, support comics but are often concerned with some subgenres of the form, notably adventure comics.

Alongi, C. (1974). Response to Kay Haugaard: Comic books revisited. Reading Teacher, 27(8), 801-803.

Alongi, responding to Haugaard (1973) below, details briefly why teens are attracted to comics, basing her response on Archie comics. This support for comics is typical of the mixed messages educators present about comics since she condones the use of comics while also belittling the quality of comics. Alongi recognizes that comics often have elements attractive to teens—fashion, slang, graphic clues—but she refers to the "stories in comic books. . .[as] trite and predictable to grownups" (p. 802). This mid-1970s response is well before the rise of graphic novels and the maturation of comics many associate with the mid-1980s. Finally, Alongi notes the contrast between the antiestablishment tone in many comics that contrast her uncritical view that "school. . .functions to promote 'desirable' social attitudes and behaviors" (p. 803).

Berger, A. A. (1978). Taking comics seriously. The Wilson Quarterly, 2(3), 95-101.

While his discussion conflates comic strips and comic books, Berger offers an endorsement of comics as a medium/genre fighting to overcome early criticisms of the form. He concludes his argument with acknowledging the need to take comics seriously since they are such a popular form within the culture.

Guthrie, J. T. (1978). Research views: Comics. The Reading Teacher, 32(3), 376-378.

Guthrie describes a study he conducted to consider the impact of reading comics on the development of reading among strong and weak readers. His study appeared to show that strong readers benefitted from reading comics while weaker readers did not because, he felt, that weaker readers were not on task when reading comics. He ends his discussion with a cavalier, "Is it any wonder that poor readers learn little from comics?" (p. 378).

Haugaard, K. (1973). Comic books: Conduits to culture? The Reading Teacher, 27(1), 54-55.

A professor and writer, Haugaard offers her view that since her three sons loved comics and that love led to an increased vocabulary and more reading, comics should find a place in the classroom. Like the response offered by Alongi (1974), Haugaard makes broad negative swipes at the quality of comics and appears to be familiar only with what many would call comics for children (Donald Duck, Casper, Archie, etc.). Haugaard's response represents the view that comics are useful as a step to better literature and more sophisticated reading, although not a ringing endorsement of comics as a medium/genre.

Marsh, R. K. (1978). Teaching French with the comics. The French Review, 51(6), 777-785.

Marsh explains that scholarship on comics and the teaching of comics is common in Europe, specifying France. This article details the use of comics to teach French, detailing many uses of comics to address language skills. Marsh ends with describing comics as "a powerful additional tool of language instruction" (p. 784).

Richie, J. R. (1979). The funnies aren't just funny. . .:Using cartoons and comics to teach. The Clearing House, 53(3), 125-128.

Richie criticizes "two-by-four teachers" who focus on textbooks and the classroom to the exclusion of other texts and life outside of school. The article endorses using cartoon and comics and notes that students need first to understand the conventions of a medium/genre before exploring texts. Richie believes comics encourages new pedagogy by teachers and small group work, along with other advantages including critical thinking. The piece ends by arguing for a combination of enjoyment and learning by teachers and students.

Schoof, R. N. (1978). Four-color words: Comic books in the classroom. Language Arts, 55(7), 821-827.

Schoof argues for using comics in the classrooms since students are willing and eager readers of the medium/genre. As many endorsing comics do, Schoof belittles the medium/genre while stating they are useful to teach literacy skills. The article lists a variety of activities around comics: identifying characters in comics, analyzing characters by images only, dialect, creating characters, naming characters, students pretending to be characters based on themselves, acting out comics, reversing gender roles when acting out comics, onomatopoeia, and students creating their own comics. Schoof ends by stating that comics are much improved over their beginning, but also offers the caveat that comics are not literature—"comic books are still nothing more than entertainment junk" (p. 827).

Wright, G. (1979). The comic book: A forgotten medium in the classroom. The Reading Teacher, 33(2), 158-161.

Wright characterizes comics as an enduring medium/genre because all ages enjoy them. Although Wright admits comics reflect the same characteristics of other literary media/genres, he also states "[b]y no stretch of the imagination can comic book stories be called great literature" (p. 159). Wright does believe, however, that the Comics Code helped the medium/genre improve. Overall, the article endorses using comics with all levels of students with the caveat that weaker students must be monitored when using comics.


Belk, R. W. (1987). Material values in comics: A content analysis of comic books featuring themes on wealth. The Journal of Consumer Research, 14(1), 26-42.

Belk conducted a mixed (qualitative and quantitative) study to "examin[e] what certain comic books may tell us about U.S. materialism" (p. 26). Focusing on a limited group of characters—Fox and Crow, Veronica Lodge (Archie), Uncle Scrooge McDuck, and Richie Rich—Belk concludes that comics are potentially a positive influence for reinforcing norms in U.S. culture about wealth. Belk acknowledges the shifting demographics of comics readers, both historically and in the future as well as the growth of Manga comics in Japan and the mid-1980s shift in comic superheroes and the aging readers/collectors of comics.

Koenke, K. (1981). The careful use of comic books. Reading Teacher, 34(5), 592-595.

Koenke offers an endorsement of teaching with comics with many caveats, including several characterizations of comics as a weak medium/genre. This brief discussion reflects the status of comics in the 1970s before the rise of graphic novels and the maturation of the medium/genre in the mid-1980s. Ultimately, Koenke views comics as a step to better literature and literacy, but not as a valid medium/genre of study itself.


Berkowitz, J., & Packer, T. (2001). Heroes in the classroom: Comic books in art education. Art Education, 54(6), 12-18.

The authors endorse the use of comics in art course. They offer a rationale for the use of comics and a history of the medium/genre. The article includes sample lesson plans and some cautions for introducing comics in the classroom.

Bitz, M. (2006, Fall). The art of democracy / democracy as art: Creative learning in afterschool comic book clubs. Afterschool Matters. Occasional paper series, pp. 1-20. Retrieved 25 February 2010 from pdf_files/occasional_paper_06.pdf

Bitz details a study of afterschool comic books clubs in nine cities across the U.S. since the beginning of comic book clubs around 2002. Comic book clubs involve students in writing, drawing, and publishing their own comics. The detailed study suggests some powerful results of the afterschool comic book clubs, most notably their contribution to John Dewey's call for democracy through education.

Bitz, M. (2004). The comic book project: Forging alternative pathways to literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47, 574-586.

Bitz details an afterschool comic book club in New York City involving over 700 students between 4th and 8th grades. The comics produced included themes about gangs, drug use, and romantic relationships. Artistic patterns in the comics included a "focus on the foreground," "the use of color to represent characters," and "pride in the design of their comic book covers" (p. 37). Bitz emphasizes the power of the project, attributed to the power of art, for urban children.

Carter, J. B. (Ed.). (2007). Building literacy connection with graphic novels: Page by page, panel by panel. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

This edited volume includes ten practical chapters that help teachers implement graphic novels into the ELA curriculum. The chapters explore arguments for incorporating graphic novels broadly along with exploring some specific applications of the medium/genre. "There is a graphic novel for virtually every learner in your English language arts classroom," claims Carter (p. 1) in the introduction, and this sets the stage for a wide range of helpful chapters that any teacher should find useful when learning about comics and graphic novels or hoping to expand their use.

Frey, N., & Fisher, D. (2004). Using graphic novels, anime, and the Internet in an urban high school. English Journal, 93(3), 19-25.

Frey and Fisher open by rejecting the traditional view that struggling and ELL students need worksheets and skills exercises to improve their literacy. Instead, they propose using graphic novels, anime, and other aspects of popular culture (acknowledging the power of multiliteracies) to offer students authentic writing experiences. The project detailed in the article revolves around the graphic novels of Will Eisner. Frey and Fisher note, "Using graphic novels to scaffold writing instruction helped students practice the craft of writing and gain necessary skills to become competent readers" (p. 23).

Krashen, S. (2005, Frebruary). The "decline" of reading in America, poverty and access to books, and the use of comics in encouraging reading. Teachers College Record.

Abstract: This paper is written as a response to these questions, posed by the editors of TC Record: Many newspapers across the country have run the following statistics: The 2002 census shows that literary reading is down 10.2% from the 1982 census, which equates to the loss of 20 million potential readers. Even more striking is the numbers reported for young adults. In 1982, 60% of young adults engaged in literary reading, while in 2002, only 43% do. Is this cause for alarm? If it is, what can be done to remedy this situation? Some educators have suggested using movies and graphic novels as a bridge to literary reading. But, is this an effective bridge; does bridging guarantee that students will take an interest in reading? Further, some have suggested that by offering some students graphic novels, while offering other students novels, we are undermining the nature of public education. But, is this missing the point? Do new media like graphic novels and film serve as an effective education tool in themselves; do they even have to be used as a bridge in order to have an educational benefit?

Lopes, P. (2006). Culture and stigma: Popular culture and the case of comic books. Sociological Forum, 21(3), 387-414.

This extensive consideration of stigma, comics, and popular culture is an excellent resource for those teaching comics, especially those who have traditionally viewed comics as a lesser medium/genre. Lopes identifies a theory of cultural stigma and associates that stigma pattern aimed at comics throughout its history with similar stigmas on other aspects of popular culture such as jazz. Lopes identifies that stigma as impeding the growth of comics as a mature medium/genre, although he concedes that in the early 2000s comics seem to be overcoming that stigma to some degree especially through the growth of graphic novels.

Morrison, T., Bryan, G., & Chilcoat, G. (2002). Using student-generated comic books in the classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(8), 758-767.

This article details students creating comics around Martin Luther King as "a means to an end" (p. 767). The authors believe using popular culture, such as the comics medium/genre, is important in school, but that teachers should be careful not "to require their students to overanalyze the very culture from which they derive so much pleasure and meaning" (p. 758). Students, they feel, benefit form comics creation because the activity is engaging, it allows student creativity, it supports literacy development, and it helps students grow as researchers. Much of the article details the construction of comics, the steps and skills needed to produce the comic.

Norton, B. (2003). The motivating power of comic books: Insights from Archie comic readers. The Reading Teacher, 57(2), 140-147.

Referring to Haugaard (1973), Norton explains that she too is a teacher and mother concerned with the value of comics. Norton details a study she conducted in the late 1990s with using Archie comics in elementary classes. Norton offers three comments based on her research: (1) Comics contribute to students' "ownership of text" (p. 145), (2) Teaching with comics needs further research, and (3) Literacy teachers need "to rethink the very notions of reading, literacy, and learning" (p. 146).

Ranker, J. (2007/2008). Using comic books as read-alouds: Insights on reading instruction for an English as a Second Language classroom. The Reading Teacher, 61(4), 296-305.

Ranker begins by supporting incorporating students' interests from outside school into the classroom, including popular media. The article discusses using comics for read-alouds in ELL classrooms. Students explore narrative structure through Spider-Man, critical reading from Hulk and Wild Girl, and textual features in a teacher-designed comic. Ranker acknowledges teacher concerns about comics, including the portrayal (and possible endorsing) of violence. Ranker concludes that comics are important as they offer students "opportunities to write, think, and discuss texts as they learn new literacies" (p. 304).

Schwarz, G. (2006). Expanding literacies through graphic novels. English Journal, 95(6), 58-64.

Schwarz views graphic novels as an important aspect of reaching beyond the traditional views of literacy. She explains that more and more professionals are recognizing the value of graphic novels. Schwarz offers some insight into some successful uses of graphic novels. Her discussion notes "[n]ew media call for a 'new rhetoric,' one that includes visual as well as verbal understanding and ability" (p. 60). Schwarz recognizes hurdles to implementing graphic novels—issues of appropriateness, lack of the medium/genre being in standards and high-stakes testing, and lack of knowledge about the medium/genre by teachers—but concludes "[s]chools must prepare young people to think critically with and about all kinds of texts" (p. 63).

Schwarz, G. E. (2002). Graphic novels for multiple literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46, 262-265.

Opening with her own discovery of Maus from a student, Schwarz recommends using graphic novels to address "an increasingly visual culture" (p. 282). Schwarz notes the potential of graphic novels to be appropriate for all content areas as well as addressing literacy concerns. Graphic novels also offer opportunities to increase students' critical literacy, she adds. The article ends with a list of eight resources for teachers concerning comics/graphic novels.

Versaci, R. (2001). How comic books can change the way our students see literature: One teacher's perspective. English Journal, 91(2), 61-67.

Versaci argues for the use of comics/graphic novels in order to support students making decisions about literary merit for themselves. Versaci believe students tend to see literary merit as something decided for them, not by them. Detailing several useful comics/graphic novels for the classroom, Versaci identifies many superior works in the medium/genre. While acknowledging the controversial history of comics, Versaci believes comics/graphic novels as a medium/genre have been misunderstood but deserve a place in the classroom and respect as a medium/genre.

Weiner, S. (2004). Show, don't tell: Graphic novels in the classroom. English Journal, 94(2), 114-117.

Weiner defines the graphic novel and argues that it has achieved quality status as a medium/genre. Weiner identifies the mid1980s and early 1990s as a turning point for the medium/genre. Graphic novels have many purposes and offer challenging reading experiences, Weiner adds. The bulk of this article is a listing of a number or valuable graphic novels suitable for the classrooms.

Williams, R. M. (2008, November). Image, text, and story: Comics and graphic novels in the classroom. Art Education, 13-19.

Williams advocates the use of comics/graphic novels for a wide variety of educational purposes, including addressing literacy, critical thinking, and art. Williams explains the value in comics while noting the historical marginalization of the medium/genre. Williams details several applications of comics/graphic novels in college and secondary classes.

Using comic books (like ‘The Avengers’) to get kids to read - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

Using comic books (like ‘The Avengers’) to get kids to read - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Salem Press

Salem Press

Critical Survey of Graphic Novels Editors: Bart H. Beaty, University of Calgary, &
Stephen Weiner, Maynard Public Library, MA

April 2012 · 2 vol. · 1,000 pages · 8" x 10"

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase

ISBN: 978-1-58765-865-5
Print List Price: $295

e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-869-3
eBook Single User Price: $295

Critical Survey of Graphic Novels
Heroes & Superheroes
130 essays covering graphic novels and core comics series that form today's canon for academic coursework and library collections, with a focus on the hero/superhero genre.

A "first" in the field, this brand new Critical Survey series focuses on all aspects of the graphic novels genre, aiming to establish it as an important academic discipline and research topic in libraries. Designed for academic institutions, high schools, and public libraries, the series provides unique insight into the stories and themes expressed in historic and current landscape of the graphic novel medium.

Scope & Coverage
The first title in this series, Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes and Superheroes, provides in-depth insight into over 130 of the most popular and studied graphic novels. Researchers will be familiar with the characters and stories included in this collection, but will gain a deeper new understanding, as the literary nature of the stories is presented in critical format by leading writers in the field of study. Essays look beyond the "pop culture" aspects of the medium to show the wide range of literary themes and artistic styles used to convey beliefs and conflicts, some harking back to ancient times. Today's graphic novels expose the vulnerabilities and character flaws that previous comic book stories glossed over or never covered. The impact of death becomes real, as popular heroes are killed, leaving an impact on the remaining characters. The theme of anti-hero runs deep as characters dismiss morality and engage in situations that are not heroic in nature. These concepts challenge the researcher to see beyond the panels of a comic book, showing readers how the themes of ancient literary tradition are still alive in the literature of graphic novels.

Monday, January 23, 2012

SCCTE 2012: Fostering Authentic Writers through Adaptation Units

Paul Thomas, EdD
Associate Professor
Furman University
3300 Poinsett Hwy
Greenville SC 29613
864-294-3386 (office)
864-590-5458 (cell)
twitter: @plthomasEdD

“Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds.” Martin Luther King Jr., “Where do we go from here?” (1967)

Becoming and being an authentic writer involves having a strong sense of purpose, a sophisticated awareness of genre and medium, and a rich experience with a wide range of avenues for expression. This session will present and discuss a variety of adaptation units that look at several texts from a central source—such as a novel adapted into a film, a graphic novel adapted in a film, or a sci-fi novel adapted into both a film and a graphic novel—in order to foster students as authentic writers.



Thomas, P. L. (2012, March). Challenging genre, medium and text—Students as authentic readers and writers. English Journal, 101(4), TBD.

------. (2011, December). Adventures in genre!: Rethinking genre through comics/graphic novels. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 2(2), 187-201.

-----. (2010, Spring). Diving into genre—A case for literature as T(t)ruth. Notes on American Literature, 19, 4-12.