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Materializing the Past: Teaching History Through Graphic Novels

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Teaching with Comics

Abstract

Many students at the secondary level still conceive of history as the mere memorization of facts, and the practice of lecturing alone often struggles to challenge this perception or foster an understanding of the past on its own terms. In this chapter, I argue that graphic novels are underutilized means to address these obstacles to learning. Drawing on Berlin by Jason Lutes and Igort’s Ukrainian Notebooks, I demonstrate how graphic novels can materialize the past, allowing students to grapple with the complexities of history. The drawn nature of graphic novels emphasizes their constructed, subjective character, creating worlds which students can inhabit and offering avenues to deepen students’ understanding of the past, foster empathy for the experiences and perspectives of others, and bring the past to life.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Although much of this scholarship focuses on college-level history courses, I argue it is equally applicable at the secondary and primary levels.

  2. 2.

    Rebecca Scherr (2013) makes this point as well, emphasizing the self-referencing nature of graphic novels and their continual disclosure of its source for information and how this information was collected.

  3. 3.

    Ivanovich’s story spans pages 151–166. On the rise of nostalgia for the communist past in the former USSR, see Boym, S. (2001). The future of Nostalgia. Basic Books.

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Correspondence to Zane Elward .

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Elward, Z. (2022). Materializing the Past: Teaching History Through Graphic Novels. In: Aman, R., Wallner, L. (eds) Teaching with Comics. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-05194-4_14

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-05194-4_14

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-05193-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-05194-4

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