Integrating Comics in the World History Classroom: A Practical Workshop

AHA Session 175
World History Association 2
Saturday, January 8, 2022: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Galerie 6 (New Orleans Marriott, 2nd Floor)
Lawrence Abrams, University of California, Davis
Comics and Film: Multimedia Literacy and Classroom Engagement
Lawrence Abrams, University of California, Davis
The History of History Comics
Maryanne A. Rhett, Monmouth University
Cultural Comics: Reading Global Forms
Kaleb Knoblauch, University of California, Davis
Teaching the Long View of Comics over Time (> 25,000 years)
Elizabeth Pollard, San Diego State University

Session Abstract

Long the perceived realm of the nerd, the geek, or the social outsider, comics and graphic novels have in recent years regained a prominence and social acceptance they have not seen since their golden age in the 1940s. This return to acceptability, however, has not been adequately mirrored in academic use. The field of comics scholarship remains vanishingly small, and their use as a teachable primary source material rarer still.

While the reticence to use comics in the history classroom has many contributing factors, one of the most salient is the simple barrier to entry posed by use of a new medium. This workshop builds on ideas developed in the World History Association’s “Under the Baobab” series to introduce scholars and especially instructors to new concepts and practical skills in how to use comics. By providing teaching tools, digital resources, practical guidance, and lesson planning demonstrations, this workshop will help to alleviate apprehension about the use of these incredibly diverse and global source materials.

The skills this workshop hopes to teach are not restricted simply to the American superhero comic. Sequential art reading skills are as equally applicable to ancient examples such as Trajan’s Column, modern Middle Eastern political satire, a Scottish nationalist propaganda piece, or a Chinese graphic memoir. By aiding instructors in the development and use of these sources, this workshop aims to bolster the available tools in the history classroom and generate further interest in these versatile and valuable graphic resources.

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