Visually Re-think: The Graphic Narrative and the Research Based Composition Classroom

So, there are TWO ways I am using to approaching the idea of the Graphic Narrative (or as Scott McCloud might refer to it, Graphic Fiction) in the classroom:


  1. Directly teaching and using Graphic Narratives such as Graphic Novels in the Composition Classroom


  1. Utilizing the creation of Graphic Narratives and other forms of Visual Rhetoric to communicate concepts, ideas, etc. found in the Composition classroom


I am currently applying both of these approaches.


Interestingly I have come to realize that when examining both of these approaches, there appears to exist interlinked but distinct aspects. Approach 1 is perhaps the more surface level, generic (emerging) approach often used in the classroom. Approach 2 represents a more conceptual synthesis of the form, the Graphic Narratives, in applying them less as texts and artifacts to be explored, analyzed, and evaluated, and instead applying the form directly to the interpretation and synthesis of information for student consumption within the teaching process itself.


Both do share the fact that they are and represent an ongoing, evolution approach in the classroom instruction.


To help differentiate the fact that I plan to post and discuss both approaches I have given here (both are ongoing) at different points and at varying times, it probably behooves me to name these two approaches to help. So, I will call Approach 1, the direct use and discussion of graphic novels in the composition classroom The Application Approach. Approach 2 I will rename here, the one about applying graphic narratives as adaptation of genres, assignments, and concepts, and refer to it as The Adaptation Approach.

Looking to Re-Think How I Teach Composition, Part 1 – Overview and Introduction

So, I recently decided that I needed to revamp my approach to teaching Comp 1 and 2. I have been on this trajectory for some time, working out some ideas, but now I think I have come across how I want to proceed. Part of this has been on my mind for a while, but after listening to the audiobook version of Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica, I really took some time to reflect upon my method and approach and asked myself the question: Could I do more? This question is something I really intend to try and answer with regards to how I teach Comp 2. In general though, I want to do more.

For one, I am working on for clearly communicating the material in the course, particularly via visual and auditory processes. Still, I wanted to try to more than even that.

So, to begin, perhaps it would be good to reflect on how I perceive and approach teaching Comp 1 and 2 as I teach now:

Composition 1:

For me this remains an introduction to college writing for students. Whether I am utilizing the Norton’s Field Guide or St. Martin’s Guide to Writing textbook, the approach is one that utilizes the “genre” approach to writing.

This entails me walking students through the writing process and MLA formatting through typically genres such as Literacy Narrative, Article Analysis, Reporting Information, and Arguing a Position (Norton’s approach, which I primarily use now).

Changes I want to make to Comp 1 instruction falls heavily on developing more resources, continued development of helping students see the process and connections, and implementation of visual diagrams and graphic narratives.

Composition 2:

This is where I lead students from the Arguing a Position paper of Composition 1 into an expanded version via a larger Research Paper.

It is here in Composition 2 that I am wanting to work on “redefining” my process and approach. I want to provide students with options here, to reach out to their strengths (and perhaps passions) and try to engage them on multiple levels.

To do this, I am in the process of attempting ONE specific course design that I really want to try out at least once, but the process of that course design will represent a traditional approach to a form that I want to develop as something as part of my overall Comp 2 redesign.

Let me start with the specific course design I want to try out (as part of a bit of social commentary) and then move on to the outcomes and standards I hope to utilize in a fresh (at least for me) re-imagining of my Comp 2 class approach.

I will address these in the following postings.