If you find yourself in San Antonio on Saturday at 11.30 am, stop by the Pop Culture & Pedagogy Panel! Here’s my abstract for that presentation:
“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a comprehensive course on North American political cartoons and comic book characters!” is an interdisciplinary, interactive, and internationally informed five day course for high school students. It begins with an historical overview of the development of graphic art in newspapers. Through mini-lectures, youTube clips, documentaries, and worksheets, the class covers American superheroes and a range of lesser-known Canadian superheroes.
Through excerpts from pop culture theorists, legislation, “comix,” web comics, graphic novels, comic books, and political cartoons, students gain the academic tools to discuss representations of characters, villains, and heroes in each country, compare presentations of Americans by Canadian artists (and vice versa), and analyze the main tropes of Canadian, American, and international identities that are found in the various comic book plots.
Course content draws from the emerging scholarship on the pop culture phenomenon of comic books, interactive web sources, and filmed interviews with comic book writers from the past, all of which will encourage students to think critically about how to de-construct and re-interpret political cartoons and comic books. For their final project, students develop an original political cartoon or superhero, along with a patriotic or artistic rationale for their character based on research, and present the character to the class.
During my panel presentation, I will share and briefly review this course content with other educators, discuss difficulties and successes I have encountered through teaching with popular culture, and mention the differences (and similarities!) I noted while teaching this class in Canada and the United States.