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Conference Presentations

San Diego Comic-Con 2022
“The Transformational Power of a Comics and Social Justice Curriculum"
Roundtable with Beth Pollard, Pam Jackson, Jess Whatcott, and Greg Daddis

Dedicated comics-studies programs are few and far between; even more rare, a slate of comics courses that explores the power of comics to engage with social justice issues! This roundtable describes the process of building a complete comics and social justice curriculum from the ground up… a curriculum that explores the power of comics over time to grapple with tough social issues and comics’ unique ability to promote empathy. Put simply, the ever-changing medium of comics is a change-maker and our program intends to harness that transformational power! Upon SDSU’s foundation of already-existing courses focused on comics and history, comics and sequential media, and graphic histories, faculty are preparing courses across the curriculum on such topics as ChicanX comics, Native Americans in comics, African-Americans in comics, Visual Rhetoric of Comics, Comics for Teachers, Religion in/of Comics, and more! In the course of our discussion, we’ll share our process (including the curriculum mapping process), library/collections support, our public-facing deliverables and dissemination plan, and examples of two of the courses we’re developing.

Download the slide deck.

International Comic Arts Forum 2023
“Building a Comics Curriculum that Inspires Change”
Beth Pollard and Pam Jackson

Scholars who study comics and graphic novels have long recognized their perpetuation of harmful stereotypes; but also, more recently, comics’ capacity to challenge injustice. Through comics’ engagement with issues like racial discrimination, gender inequality, sexual identity, immigration, and climate justice, the ever-changing medium is itself a change-maker. Institutions can take advantage of that disruptive power of comics to address principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. To that end, our institution is halfway through a grant-funded undertaking to 1) develop ten new courses that will deepen and expand our comics curriculum (especially with regard to social justice issues) and 2) use these courses to create a certificate in Comic Studies at our Hispanic- and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. This paper provides an interim report on our initiative, anticipating that the successes we’ve managed and the challenges we’ve faced (some resolved, others outstanding) will offer a blueprint for other institutions looking to jumpstart their own comics curriculum. We’ll describe our multi-stage process of curriculum building - from needs/resources assessment (existing courses, faculty, and library resources) to course development concurrent with curriculum design. We’ll share some highlights of the five new courses developed in AY 2022/23 (addressing such issues as LGBT+ and African-American representation, Chicanx identity, Cold War fears, and Comics Rhetoric) and a sneak peek at courses we’ll be developing in Year Two. Attendees at our session will leave with access to syllabi and lesson plans for at least seven comics and social justice-inflected classes, our provisional degree-learning outcomes matrix for a comics certificate, and ideas about implementing a similar comics curriculum at their own institution. Such an approach to the study of comics, and a curriculum that uses comics to engage social justice issues, stands to empower students to visualize and manifest a more just future.


Coming soon


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