Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Visual History - Graphic Novels In The Humanities

Source: The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation; Harper Collins

Most English and social studies teachers no longer view graphic novels as simply "long comic books." The educational benefits of blending illustrations with narratives have been well established. But rarely do books come along that masterfully capture the dynamic, eye-popping power of art and history.

We are currently mesmerized by one such book, The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation, with text by Jonathan Hennessey and visuals by Aaron McConnell. We're not normally in the habit of plugging specific books, but this expert volume could become an American history textbook for the visual generation.

Source: The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation; Harper Collins

Source: Graphic Gettysburg
The stunning paperback uses "Lincoln's words to tell the whole story of America's Civil War, 1776 to the present." The book is thrilling in its account of regional rifts and in its pictorial precision on each page.

Even more so, the book reinforces the key skills of graphicacy, where words and images unite to offer an enhanced presentation of facts and themes. Here, the sequential art translates action and communicates cause-and-effect for certain learners in ways that traditional paragraphs cannot.

We've been long-time admirers of the authors' prior creation, The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, which made our nation's foundational legal document accessible (and even exciting) for our middle-schoolers.
Source: Better World Books

Similar to Larry Gonick's superb The Cartoon History Of The United States, young doodlers or comic fans are instantly drawn to the compelling shades and textures of the Gettysburg panels. They then internalize the critical messages of national division and leadership decision-making. For older students, a discussion of visual rhetoric could offer avenues for acknowledging time, motion, and the "manipulation of viewer experience."

For other information on ways to incorporate graphic novels into the humanities classroom, we recommend these resources:
Source: The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation; Harper Collins


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