Graphic novels in advanced English/language arts classrooms: A phenomenological case study Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Gillenwater, Cary
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • This dissertation is a phenomenological case study of two 12th grade English/language arts (ELA) classrooms where teachers used graphic novels with their advanced students. The primary purpose of this case study was to gain insight into the phenomenon of using graphic novels with these students--a research area that is currently limited. Literature from a variety of disciplines was compared and contrasted with observations, interviews, questionnaires, and structured think-aloud activities for this purpose. The following questions guided the study: (1) What are the prevailing attitudes/opinions held by the ELA teachers who use graphic novels and their students about this medium? (2) What interests do the students have that connect to the phenomenon of comic book/graphic novel reading? (3) How do the teachers and the students make meaning from graphic novels? The findings generally affirmed previous scholarship that the medium of comic books/graphic novels can play a beneficial role in ELA classrooms, encouraging student involvement and ownership of texts and their visual literacy development. The findings also confirmed, however, that teachers must first conceive of literacy as more than just reading and writing phonetic texts if the use of the medium is to be more than just secondary to traditional literacy. The findings also affirmed that a complex interaction of pedagogy, curriculum, and historical influences inform, affect, and shape this phenomenon and create tensions around the use of this medium, particularly for students. The study also produced some interesting findings that complicated and even challenged current scholarship about the canon, literacy, and using comic books/graphic novels in the ELA classroom. While it is understood that canonical texts often persist due to social and cultural forces that influence both schooling and our society, there are also less controlling forces influencing the canon, particularly nostalgia. The findings also suggest that excellent traditional literacy abilities can play an important role in understanding and interpreting images; however, instruction in the arts and visual literacy can augment and deepen students' visual literacy. Finally, the findings suggest that scholarship on comic books, particularly how to read them, may be overly complicated and pedantic.
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  • In Copyright
  • Grumet, Madeleine
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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