Pedagogies and Challenges: Teaching Asian America Through Graphic Narratives (Roundtable)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA
contact email: 

Over the past few years, graphic narratives as a form of cultural expression have gained positive reception in literary circles, but how does this genre serve the purpose for teaching about race in America? While teaching about race requires “viewing,” using graphic narratives can effectively educate students about race that sometimes traditional prose narratives cannot. However, some argue whether visual representations, like films and mass media, can potentially perpetuate racial stereotypes. Do graphic narratives reinforce or disrupt racial stereotypes? How do we adopt this genre to advance our teaching and promote students’ understanding of Asian America? How do graphic narratives provide an alternative space for Asian Americans to express themselves and shape their identities? How do instructors select graphic narratives based on “appropriacy,” “suitability,” and “academic value”? Is there any pedagogical theory that helps us meet the objective of promoting racial literacy through Asian American graphic narratives? The success of Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese has proven “the close relationship between Asian American literature and popular visual culture” (Thoma ii).  In addition, other representative texts include Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim, Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine, Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani, graphic sections in I-Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita, and The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. They reflect the intersectionality of race and ethnicity, material and visual cultures, identity politics, history, autobiofictionagraphy, transnational connections, alternative narrative forms, etc. In her edited book Drawing New Color Lines: Transnational Asian American Graphic Narratives, the leading Asian American scholar on graphic narratives, Monica Chiu, remarks, “Graphic narratives introduce an exciting visual dimension to a field of expected narrative trajectories about Asian Americans” (3). Such an accountprovides us with a critical lens through which we approach Asian America “graphically” and connect with those who share their critical inquiries of representing Asian America.

This roundtable discussion invites instructors using Asian American graphic narratives to share their teaching experience and strategies. We can approach it through its unique structure, its visual narrative format, the rhetorical relation among image, text, page layouts, and panels. How do we utilize the graphic narrative responsibly as an intersectional space to engage students in conversations about race, gender, sexuality, social justice and equity, immigration, and many other talking points related to Asian America?

Please submit an abstract of approximately 300 words that emphasizes your pedagogical strategies to: https://cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17932 by September 30, 2019. Please indicate your media needs (e.g., projector, VGA connecter) when you submit your paper abstracts in your user accounts. Those whose abstracts are accepted will receive further notice.