For the reflection on your literacy comic, I am most interested in you thinking about how it was different to write your literacy narrative as a comic — how did you think differently once the visual component was added?, how did that help you to see the story you were trying to tell in different terms?, was your analytical thinking process any different? How have your thoughts about your alphanumeric literacy narrative changed in the process of transforming it into a comic?
I’d also like you to discuss choices you made in creating your comic and try to explain why you chose the way you did. Especially if there’s something you were really trying to do in your comic which you felt you couldn’t realize as perfectly as you would if you had a lot more time, more resources, or if you could have hired an illustrator to turn your vision into exactly what you wanted. If there are aspects of your comic where you have a clear sense of what you were trying to accomplish and how you would have done so if some things were different, then explain that in your reflection. Doing so allows you to demonstrate that you have the knowledge you need about this sort of writing even if you have not yet developed all the skills necessary to make that knowledge visible in the final artifact you’ve produced.
I’m sorry that I cannot be with you all for our scheduled class on Thursday due to a family emergency. Stick to the assignment schedule — finish reading Palestine and start Pyongyang for class on Tuesday and work on your literacy narrative comics. Compose a true story in words and images of some sort and publish that to your site over the weekend.
Since I can’t have you sketch at the start of class on Thursday, how about you just go ahead and do one on your own? Check out this brief article and accompanying photos in the New Yorker about Colin Combs, an eighteen-year-old photographer from Dayton, Ohio who uses “expired film and cheap or disposable cameras” to create “vivid, unvarnished stills” depicting himself and his friends “just trying to make art, have fun, and not feel like idiots.” Choose one of Combs’ photographs from the article and spend 10 minutes sketching your own version of the image (like we did in class previously). Scan or photograph your image and publish it in a post. Write a very brief reflection with the sketch: what drew you to the image you choose, what did you notice about it initially? What did you notice about the photograph as you spent time sketching it? These are photographs taken with cheap equipment, quick and on the fly, not carefully staged or ‘shopped — but there is something compelling about them. After sketching the image and letting your hand and eye engage with the photo in that manner, what do you think of it, what makes it art?
I’ll do my best to reply to emails between now and the end of the week, but I’ll be driving a lot and dealing with some heavy emotional stuff, so there will likely be more lag time before a reply than you are used to from me. But if you have questions about anything, don’t hesitate to email me about it — just be patient about getting a reply, please.
In class today, you read the draft comics from three of your peers and provided feedback to them both orally and on this sheet:
Literacy Narrative Comic Storyboard Feedback
At the end of class today, three different students in the class will hand you one of those feedback sheets and you will have had a conversation with them about your comic. As soon as is practical, please post the draft that you brought with you to class on your site (if you had a physical draft, scan or photograph it such that it’s legible and then upload it). Write a paragraph or two in which you summarize the feedback you got in class. You can quote from the sheets if that’s useful, but you don’t need to transcribe them wholesale — synthesize the responses to those questions plus whatever other useful feedback you got.
Note: Justin, Katherine, Kate, and Tony — since you weren’t in class today or didn’t have a draft with you, post your draft comics to your sites as soon as you can, then arrange with each other to meet (in person or asynchronously) and provide feedback to each other. You can download the form above and then fill out one for each of your peers.
Remember, I extended the deadline for the Tracing Maus project — you need to have the pages published to your site by Saturday, March 10.
Once you have completed your Tracing Maus project and published the pages to your site, you need to publish a reflection post as well. The post serves to turn the project in when it syndicates to the class site, and is also an opportunity for you to explain your process in the work you just completed.
Your reflection post should link to the landing page for the project and should address the following questions:
- Before writing your essay, you went through a pretty involved process of tracing and annotating two pages from the book. Briefly explain what that process was like for you — probably this was very different from most other writing you’ve done, so try to explain what was useful about the process for you. What productive thoughts or analysis occurred through the act of tracing and annotating?
- For this assignment, instead of writing a linear alphanumeric text you created a series of interlinked pages based around patterns you identified while tracing and annotating pages. How did your writing process change to address this assignment? Did you find it useful to write about ideas in chunks like this, instead of in a more traditional thesis-driven linear format?
- We talking in class about Spiegelman’s reference to the “secret language of comics” as indicating that the writer/illustrator make a whole series of choices in crafting a comic that probably pass by many readers with little or no conscious notice. Do you feel that this assignment helped you to get in on this secret language? Do you understand Maus better after having written this project? What’s the single biggest insight you gained about the book that you gained during the process of tracing, annotating, and analyzing these pages (maybe something you “knew” on some level before you started but that you really get now, or maybe something you hadn’t really noticed until you worked on the project)?
There’s a lot going on this week as we go out into spring break with a bang. As you begin to read Palestine, you will also be finishing up your Tracing Maus project and working on the literacy narrative comic draft/storyboard that we’ll be workshopping right after we return from break.
In class on Tuesday, we’ll start off with clearing up any questions you might still have about the Tracing Maus projects and then probably spend a few minutes discussing the final chapter of the book, since group work on Thursday meant we didn’t really get to talk about it directly. We’ll also begin to discuss Palestine, focusing on (the first 2 chapters, at least) differ from or are similar to what we read from Spiegelman:
- Think about how the rhetorical situations are different for Maus and Palestine.
- Sacco is very certainly influenced by Spiegelman, but what does “influenced by” mean in this context? Where do you see this influence?
- We’ll definitely talk about genre and how genre conventions shape and are shaped by readers’ and writers’ practices and purposes over the coming weeks. Sacco has a degree in journalism and classifies his work as “graphic journalism” or “comics journalism.” Maus was originally nominated for a National Book award under the category “Biography,” but is also often classified as memoir, history, and even sometimes fiction.
Once you post the “What’s in your bag?” sketch, you won’t have another sketch due until March 25. That assignment will ask you to combine two photos, putting a person from one photo into a place from another one, so if you travel or go home over spring break and you get a chance to either take photos or look through family photo albums, you might keep an eye out for images that would be fun to play with.
As you work on your literacy narrative comics, I thought you might find interesting this comic that was just published this week “Say It with Noodles: A Comic about Food and Language” by Shing Yin Khor which is subtitled “I have forgotten how to speak two languages. But I have learned this one.”
From the in-class group work today:
The image you sketched today appeared in this article in the Guardian from last month. Philippe Chancel took photos documenting multiracial street gangs in 1982 Paris.
Also: one of you left your copy of Maus Book 2 in the classroom. I don’t see a name in it, but email me and/or come by my office to pick it up if it belongs to you.
Klara Prowisor, now 92 and living in Tel Aviv, escaped the gas chamber at Auschwitz by leaving her sick father behind as she jumped from a train in Belgium. Two decades later, she received a message from him. This 13-minute story is haunting and incredibly powerful.
Matan Rochliz interviewed Prowisor and created this short documentary film of her story for the New York Times, as part of their relatively new feature called “Op-Docs“:
Op-Docs is a series of short, interactive, and virtual reality documentaries. Each film is produced with wide creative latitude by both renowned and emerging filmmakers, and premieres across Times online platforms. The goal of each Op-Doc is to present a unique point of view.
The list of Op-Docs projects spans an impressive range of subjects and methods.
In the coming week, we will finish up reading and discussing Art Spiegelman’s Maus books, but probably the bulk of your time spent on this class over the next week will be devoted to your projects.
Between now and when we meet on Tuesday, in addition to publishing your triptych comic you should also be working on tracing your pages — you should probably have one page finished and at least have the second one chosen over the weekend. We’ll touch base on how the tracing and analysis are coming in class on Tuesday, so be thinking about any questions you have as you work.
(Note that I forgot to distribute the second sheet of tracing paper in class on Thursday, so I’ve put sheets in a big yellow envelope outside my office door — hanging just beneath my name plaque on the wall. There are definitely enough for everyone to get another sheet, but probably aren’t enough sheets for everyone to take 2, so please be considerate.)
You should also be working on storyboarding and rough sketches of your literacy narrative comic. Those drafts won’t be due until after spring break, but you will definitely not want to leave them until the last moment.
Next weekend, after you’ve posted sketch 6 you’ll have a break from those assignments until the week after you get back from spring break.