Teaching Comics and Teaching with Comics (Panel, NeMLA 2022)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Sara Dallavalle (NeMLA 2022)
contact email: 

Teaching Comics and Teaching with Comics

(Panel)Pedagogy & Professional / Cultural Studies and Media StudiesChair(s)

Sara Dallavalle (University of Chicago)


In the recent years, foreign language teaching has advocated for an increasingly intermedial and interdisciplinary approach, one that enables teachers to expand course materials and integrate a wide array of popular and current cultural products. In this regard, the medium of comics provides original pedagogical applications. First, the interdisciplinary nature of comics makes them exceptionally adaptable across several subjects, such as history, society, art, translation, etc. Moreover, in combining verbal and visual elements, cartoons, comics books, and graphic novels are particularly suitable for enabling students to develop multimodal literacy. As Daniela Elsner argues, “Twenty first century learners of foreign languages need to be able to decode and comprehend mono- and multimodal, linear and non-linear, mono- and multilingual, audio- or visual, traditional or digital text forms; they moreover need to be able to analyze and understand the interplay of pictures, sound, texts and symbols” (“Graphic Novels in the Limelight of a Multiliteracies Approach to Teaching English”, 2013, p. 57).

The goal of this panel is to explore ways in which comics can be integrated in intermediate and advanced language courses, both in terms of teaching comics as standalone cultural products and teaching with comics and exploiting their verbal qualities to discuss grammar and vocabulary. Panelists are invited to share some insight into their theoretical approach to teaching (with) comics as well as their practical solutions in designing syllabi, choosing class materials, and preparing assessments.