I just finished turning in my comprehensive exam papers to my doctoral committee. In two weeks I’ll have an oral defense/exam meeting to discuss these papers. Hopefully I’ll pass the exam and move on to my dissertation. I’ve been creating a space for me in my department to do arts-based educational research, specifically, making comics as my research. These three papers offer different possibilities for comics-as-research.
The first is a zine about mini-comics, parenting, toddlerhood, and self-publishing, called These Things We Have Made. It’s part-writing, part-comics. A little academic, a little memoir. Overall, I make the argument for mini-comics as a culturally and historically attuned medium for political, cultural, and personal subversion, and argue against the more recent comics-as-literature trend. All of this is written from the perspective of a father trying to learn how to understand and respect his toddler.
The second one is a mini-comic, Are You Dangerous? and an accompanying essay, “Let the Monsters In: Pedagogy and Cartooning.” The comic is about a boy, Marcos, who comes across a dangerous-looking and possibly-injured monster in the alleyway and tries to help. Two birds perched above them attempt to interpret the situation, while a worm on the ground sings to a growing worm-crowd. This comic and the accompanying essay explore the possibilities of disjuncture and fracturing, of overlapping narratives, and discontinuity, and the implications this has for teaching and learning.
The last, is a case study of a ten year-old boy, Milo. For six months (on and off), Milo and I met weekly to draw comics. This comic explores five moments/ideas/concepts that emerged during those meanings and my reflections and analyses of them. What does it mean for Milo to make comics? What does Milo’s process look like? What is he doing?
So, hopefully I will pass my comps exam in two weeks. And if I do, I’ll start work on my dissertation which will revisit many of these ideas, expand on them, all the while dwelling in the space between artist, researcher, and teacher (and parent).
If there are any educational researchers out there who would like copies of any of these, just drop me an email at email@example.com. I’m happy to share! At the moment, I don’t have plans to make them publicly available.
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