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Spring 2014

Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom

Texas Tech librarians publish book examining the educational power of sequential art.

by Karin Slyker

Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom

The word “comics” may bring to mind the Sunday funnies or a floppy magazine, but a book by two Texas Tech University librarians highlights another side to the format known as “sequential art.”

Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom” is a compilation co-edited by Associate Librarians Carrye Syma and Robert Weiner, who say their greatest challenge is overcoming the notion that comics “dumb things down.”

“Interpreting the images and text invokes a very active learning process,” Weiner said. “It engages both sides of the brain.”

The history of sequential art in education dates back to the 1940s, when it was used to help illustrate historical atrocities, workforce concepts and social attitudes. More than 70 years later, its value continues to evolve.

“Graphic novels can reach audiences that might not otherwise be reached,” Syma said. “It can be an entertaining way to learn and explore.”

This blind peer-reviewed book is a diverse yet solid collection of material that highlights various unconventional applications of sequential art and its potential as a positive educational tool. Essays range from the practical uses in education, diversity and feminism, to the merits of college-level courses on Batman.

“In this day and age, a certain amount of popular culture must be available to engage students,” Weiner said. “It can complement the standard higher education curriculum.”

Karin Slyker is a Senior Writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing at Texas Tech University.

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