Review from Comics in Education

“I Don’t Teach Comics, I Teach the Canon.” “Really? Why Not Teach Both!” by Glen Downey | 3/26/2014 |

The Graphic Canon is a godsend for teachers

Edited by Russ Kick, the three volumes of The Graphic Canon contain a wealth of wonderful curriculum support materials for teachers. Although there may be colleagues of yours who balk at your desire to use visual narrative in the classroom, they’d be hard-pressed to object to the stunning series of graphic poems, stories, and novel excerpts that constitute these three volumes. Your fellow department members only want to teach “The Canon?” That’s fine. With The Graphic Canon they can do just that!

I could talk at great length about this series of books, and no doubt in future postings I’ll be looking at how to use them in the classroom, but for now your best resource on the series is their WordPress site.

I can tell you that each volume in the series covers a distinct period of time and the literature that goes with it. The first volume’s selections range from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons. Volume 2 takes readers from Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” to the works of the Bronte Sisters and finally to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Finally, the third text goes from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest.

From my perspective, the series is of most use to high school educators who either want to…

  • teach the graphic version of a poem or selection of poems from a given time period
  • use the graphic excerpt of a novel as a support piece to studying the original, or
  • do a short story or selection of short stories in graphic form.

Of course, there is nothing preventing the teacher from constructing an entire unit around these selections. With younger students, however, you might not have enough selections that are geared towards a junior or middle school audience, so that a series like Graphic Poetry from Rubicon/Scholastic would be a better option. Scott Robins @Scout101 also mentioned in a Tweet the Visions in Poetry series from @KidsCanPress.