Archive for the ‘Jonathan Alexander’ Category

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Announcing a CCCC Event on Teaching with Understanding Rhetoric

posted: 3.11.15 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Have you taught with Understanding Rhetoric by Liz Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon–or are you curious about teaching with it in the future?

Are you going to 4Cs in Tampa?

If you said yes to both questions, please consider joining us for a panel featuring instructors who have taught with Understanding Rhetoric–plus a chance to share your own ideas and gather some new assignments and teaching tips. [read more]

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Categories: Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Professional Conferences, Professional Development & Service
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Talking about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Comics

posted: 11.17.14 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Many campuses now have general education requirements that require students to take courses that incorporate sensitivity training designed to reduce incidents of racism or sexism on campus.  The problem with these courses is that they may often be too short in duration, too large in enrollment, or too superficial in content to effect real behavioral change, particularly among students imbued with false confidence that they live in a postracial society in which Obama is president, they don’t know any racists, and they can adopt completely color-blind attitudes. [read more]

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Getting your comic Zen on…

posted: 7.10.14 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Jonathan recently sat down digitally to catch up with his former student, David Lumb, now a full-time journalist and aspiring comics author in NYC. In this interview, David shares more thoughts on comics, composing, computers, crowdfunding…and hesitation sandtraps! [read more]

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Making Comics in the Classroom: Success as Process

posted: 6.23.14 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

 

Guest blogger Keith McCleary has an MFA in Creative Writing from UCSD and is the recipient of the Barbara and Paul Saltman Excellent Teaching Award for Graduate Students and a UCIRA Open Classroom Challenge Grant. He is the author of two graphic novels, Killing Tree Quarterly and Top of the Heap, from Terminal Press. 

The past two springs I have taught a course called ComiCraft, which combines an upper-division composition seminar with a hands-on practicum in which students create and then write about their own comics, making for a unique experience that’s both generative and reflexive. [read more]

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Identity Play

posted: 10.18.13 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Liz’s last post on “Cross-Dressing and Identity in Understanding Rhetoric” reminds me how important it is to consider identity in the teaching of writing.  Indeed, one of the chapters we insisted on including in Understanding Rhetoric is the fourth chapter on “Writing Identities,” which focuses on the many ways that writers use language and other forms of communication to experiment with identity. [read more]

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Engagement and Difficulty

posted: 5.13.13 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the emotional tenor of the work that we do—not just the emotions and affective dispositions we bring to the classroom, to committees, to working with graduate students, and to administrative tasks; I mean the emotional dynamics of the classroom, particularly the emotional terrain that students encounter when they are learning to write.  Colleagues such as Laura Micciche have written about this dimension of composition work far better than I can (or will), but I offer a thought here in relation to our publication of Understanding Rhetoric. [read more]

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Making Things Graphic as a Form of Interpretation

posted: 4.4.13 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Liz and I recently presented about the process of writing Understanding Rhetoric at the Northeast MLA conference in Boston, where we had the chance to visit with other scholars and teachers who use graphic books to teach a variety of subjects, from literature to art to foreign languages.  We were reminded again of the power of the comics medium not just to interest and engage students but to challenge their thinking about the nature of representation.

One intriguing set of examples came from a professor of German who showed us different graphic renditions of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, a startling tale of a man who wakes up transformed into a bug and then has to deal with his transformation the rest of the day.  Rife with visual possibilities, The Metamorphosis as a graphic novel itself metamorphoses from an original print text into different visual versions that each show the artist’s interpretive decisions.  Indeed, artists make choices in rendering The Metamorphosis–What does the bug look like? From whose perspective is the story narrated? How does the visual representation differ from the print? These are interpretive choices because they reveal how the artists understand the original text.  In her classes, the German professor used a German-language comic version of The Metamorphosis not only to teach her students German but to teach them something about the interpretation of literary texts as they are transformed from one medium to another.  [read more]

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The Recursive Modes of Comics: A Dialogue with Two Writing Teachers

posted: 2.22.13 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

I recently asked Dr. Lynda Haas, a colleague at UC, Irvine and longtime pop culture and comics fan, to talk to me about how she teaches writing with comics.  Lynda has done so much to enliven composition instruction at UCI by showing us pedagogically innovative ways to use pop culture, particularly visually-driven pop culture, not only to engage students’ interest but to prompt critical thinking about the media images and ideas that surround them.  I asked Lynda questions specifically about her teaching of (and with) comics, and she invited another colleague, Scott Kaufman, to join in the fun.

1.  How long have you been interested in comics and what kinds of comics do you enjoy?

Lynda:  I’ve been reading comics ever since I can remember—in fact, some of my first reading memories are of Spiderman and The Fantastic Four. In the summer when I was about 9 or 10, a boy who lived two doors down used to get a package of new comics delivered by mail every Wednesday. It became a custom for quite a few kids in our neighborhood to meet on summer mornings and lay around on the porch or in our makeshift army fort, reading our favorite superheroes.
In the 9th grade, my family moved, and I missed that neighborhood reading ritual. I kept up with some of the comics by going to a library,but also by that time (mid-1970s) there were several TV shows to keep up my interest in the comic-book superheroes—Wonder Woman, The Six-Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, etc. In fact, when Wonder Woman became my favorite, I began insisting that my name be spelled with a “y”—Lynda, because Lynda Carter spelled it that way. I guess I’ve never gotten over my initial attraction to superheroes.  I stopped reading comics regularly by the time I got to college, but in the past six years or so, my love for them has rekindled, thanks to my colleague Scott Kaufman—we started talking about using comics in our writing classes and ever since then, he’s exposed me to all kinds of new stuff.  I now enjoy all genres of comics and try to read at least one new title every month—I’m currently reading Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout. Scott–how long have you been reading comics? [read more]

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Advice from a Late Comer: An Interview with a Compositionist on Beginning to Teach with Comics

posted: 12.17.12 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

In this post, I interview one of my favorite colleagues at UC, Irvine, Kat Eason, a veteran writing instructor who is adept at using popular culture in composition courses.  I have had the privilege of training new teaching assistants with Kat, and I have come to admire her insights into using visually rich material as objects for analysis in writing classrooms.  In this interview, Kat offers wonderful advice, particularly for those who might be new to using comics in the comp classroom.  I particularly appreciate her strategies for comparing images and themes across media as a way to fine-tune analyses of complex communicative practices.

1. How long have you been interested in comics and what kinds of comics do you enjoy?

I’m a late comer to comics; about 13 years ago, my future husband loaned me his complete set of Sandman graphic novels, assuring me that I would love them. I did.  I’m primarily interested in a good story than a specific genre, and in self-contained stories rather than “brands.” I’m not a huge fan of superhero comics in general, although I’ve read a few here and there (Mignola’s Hellboy; the two Black Widows written by Richard Morgan, Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, and of course, Moore’s The Watchmen). I prefer horror or dystopias, as a rule—Walking Dead, 30 Days of Night, DMZ–and cyberpunky high-concept technofutures like Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed. [read more]

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Vibrant, Visceral Things: An Interview with a Young Writer

posted: 12.10.12 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

      Jonathan

In this post, I interview David Lumb, a former student at the University of California, Irvine, where he took a degree in English and, during his senior year, edited the campus’s student newspaper.  David now lives in New York and works as a journalist and is an editor for SPUN, an iPhone app that publishes geolocated stories in your city.

David just recently had his first graphic story published, “Junklords,” for which he wrote the text. “Junklords” is illustrated by Amy Barnum and appears in The Freshmen Fifteen anthology by Old College Comics.  In this interview, David reflects on his introduction to comics, both in curricular and extra-curricular contexts, and his coming to collaborate on a graphic story.  He models some of the enthusiasm—and challenges—of not only reading comics and graphic books but working in comics as a medium.  Note in particular how he reflects on the limitations of the medium—having to work with a set number of publishable panels—as an enabling constraint that forced him to make some productive choices.

1.  How did you first “get into” comics?  What were they?  Do you still read the comics you first started reading?  What do you read now?

My first comics were the Sunday Funnies – I’m indebted to my dad for pointing out Calvin and Hobbes and buying me a few collections. Later, in middle school and into high school, my nerdy friends started collecting trade paperbacks from DC and Marvel – I managed to borrow my way through a friend’s bookcase in a summer, reading very teen-oriented, often-angsty books like Young Justice and Ultimate Spider-Man. Reading those books now is a rough reminder of how seductive superhero power fantasies are for aimless, uncoordinated, desperate teens – and how the static, brand-preserving limitations the Big Two put on their writing teams neuters the danger and drama. [read more]

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