Category Archives: history

Comics In The Classroom: Grand View University

By Greg Goode

Watchmen, the seminal graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, appears on Time magazine’s 100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century list.  In 2009, The New York Times began publishing a graphic novel bestseller list.  The same year, Heath Ledger wins an Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker, Batman’s arch-enemy, in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

The comic book, long considered a disposable object exclusively for children, is finally getting some respect. Further validation for the art form can be found on college campuses, where graphic novels are becoming an increasingly common part of the curriculum, including at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Matt Plowman, Grand View’s associate professor of history, first experienced comics in the classroom at another institution as part of a critical thinking class on the Holocaust. Plowman said one of the most powerful texts the class read was Maus by Art Spigelman, a graphic novel about Spigelman’s father’s experience in a Nazi concentration camp.

“I’ve seen [graphic novels] used very effectively, and communicate things that just weren’t alive on the page of a history book,” Plowman said. “Literally, it’s graphing reality for them, picturing reality and playing with it.”

Later this semester in his European Cultural & Intellectual History class, Plowman will be using V For Vendetta by Moore and David Lloyd, a graphic novel about an anarchist’s war against authority in a near-future totalitarian England.

“With European intellectual history, you kind of have to show where society’s moving,” Plowman said. “So I was looking for something that was late 20th century, and particularly with where a lot of European thinkers were going, there’s a lot of dystopia. And the graphic novels tend to be on the edge of that.”

Plowman said he picked V For Vendetta partly because of the students familiarity with the story from its 2006 film adaptation.

“I wanted them to be able to see the original intent of Alan Moore and what he’s really trying to say about society,” Plowman said. “Sometimes it’s easier for some students, rather than trying to find a movie that has a traditional novel, where they have to do more literary criticism. Especially for the visual learners.”

Kevin Gannon, professor of history at Grand View, said he’s always been intrigued by the use of graphic novels in class. Two years ago, Gannon took part in a summer reading program for the Grand View freshman class that used Gene Luen Yung’s graphic novel American Born Chinese.

“I had never taught with that before and in my discipline, it’s not very common. We use pretty standard vanilla textbooks. I was intrigued with the idea,” Gannon said. “I was a bit intimidated by the idea, too, because I had no idea how to teach it. What I learned is that it’s just like any other text.”

This semester, Gannon is assigning A People’s History of American Empire, a graphic novel that adapts writings by radical historian Howard Zinn. Gannon said students have responded to the text enthusiastically.

“For me personally, a graphic novel fits right in with the way I structure my courses and what I want students to be able to do with the texts that we read,” Gannon said.

Other Grand View instructors utilizing comics include Ken Jones, who assigned the zombie apocalypse story The Walking Dead in his Introduction to Ethics class this semester and Jim Whyte, who has given students the task of creating their own comics in his Principles of Management class.

Gannon said he sees the use of graphic novels in his class as a way of expanding his students’ ideas of what materials can be used in the classroom environment.

“I ask my students to be open-minded and look at different things as text, not just the standard printed page,” Gannon said. “If I’m going to ask my students to look at a text in that way, I should be willing to do the same myself.  And that’s where graphic novels help stretch me as a teacher.”

I LOVE ALEC BALDWIN

how awesome is this guy?

nataliebeth

A Fine Collection of Romero Trailers

The Vault of Horror recently posted a collection of George A. Romero Trailers. There are a couple movies missing, such as the ROMANTIC COMEDY, “There’s Always Vanilla” (wait… what?!), and his fourth film, “Season of the Witch” (not to be confused with the recent Cage/Perlman thriller).

I’ve included those in this post, but go check out The Vault for the classics. Classics such as… Knightriders!

And here’s the trailer for There’s Always Vanilla:

… if that’s a romantic comedy… umm… wow…

And Season of the Witch:

Ok. Let’s watch these films!

Go to The Vault of Horror for the others.

scott

news with natalie 08302010

time for an update! here are the most important things of the day (if you happen to be looking at the world through a kaleidoscope, like i am).

ONE: corgis on a treadmill? why??? check out this adorable video. i know there are really only two corgis…but are there really only two corgis?! YOU decide!

TWO: iowa contributes to national news? this is definitely newsworthy. iowa state used their carillon to play lady gaga’s BAD ROMANCE. the video is over five minutes long (which may be longer than the actual song), so don’t waste your time watching it. just revel in the fact that iowa is once again leaving its mark on this amazing nation.

THREE: angry man tries to pay his property tax with 33,000 pennies. i love this story so much, but that’s really all there is to it. he went to the treasurers office and tried to pay his $330 property tax, in pennies, but was DENIED. justice? where is the JUSTICE? if you want to read more about this amazing story, check it out here on gawker.

FOUR: oh my godddd, can you even handle this photograph? i love this so much, mostly because of this quote: ‘once the shock wears off, i’m sure she’ll say yes.’ yeah? are you sure? who is this guy anyway? it doesn’t matter. anyway, in reference to this photo, i say mostly because let’s not forget his amazing pants, tan, or tattoos. his dead stare makes me wish he was asking me. but i digress.

FIVE: this faaaantastic gem of a german man, thilo sarrazin finally broke the silence about jews, and said that ‘all jews share a certain gene.’ yeah? cool! maybe we should put them somewhere where they can all be together, comfortably. maybe…in a…camp! sorry thilo, someone already thought of that. read more on that here.

well, that’s that! see you next week for news with natalie!

love always,
nataliebeth

Laconic Oration – February

Laconic Oration is a blog full of interesting/inspiring images. It’s a baby created by Natalie and me.

Every month, I take a handful of my favorite images from the month and post them here. For example: January, December, November, October, and September.

Enjoy!









scott

Laconic Oration – January

Natalie and I maintain an image-blog over at laconicoration.tumblr.com.

Here is a very small taste of what was posted there in January:




















i’ve also posted samples from December, November, October, and September. However… you could always just stop over to the site itself

scott

Woman’s Home Companion 1910

I was cleaning up the living room today and came across a magazine from exactly 100 years ago ( you would be amazed what’s just lying around this house).

Sorry… I didn’t scan the whole thing in (or any of it, really), but here’s the cover:

and here’s a Corn Flakes ad from inside:

scott