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For the College Classroom

Hunting Through
Medieval Literature

Classroom Comics: Children's
Medium and the New Literacy

For the College Classroom

The Maiden with a Thousand

Peter Pan

Graphic Novel Reporter

A Whisper and a Prayer

The Masculine Mind
of Shakespeare's Women

Christine de Pizan

Hostages in the Rose Garden

Murder Will Out




ABOUT Comics in the College Classroom

Why comics?

I often teach intensive writing, or what was once called remediation, and those classes are filled with students who are uncomfortable with texts. They donít want to read them and they donít want to write them because they havenít been successful with the written word. So when my students arrive for the first day of class with a graphic novel in hand, I know they think my class is going to be easy. And that is my goal. If students believe intensive reading and writing is going to be fairly painless, they will relax long enough to think critically about what is going on in the novelís panels. Instead of parroting back written text, theyíll have to interpret the panels, and join the conversation taking placing within the panels of the graphic novel. What's more students expand their college-level vocabulary by finding visual definitions for words, and surprisingly, visual vocabulary seems to "stick," showing up properly used in student essays.

Let students create their own graphic novels using their own narratives as scripts. Creating a graphic novel helps solve one of the biggest problems I run across—the beginning writer's tendency to say the same thing over and over and over again. It drives instructor's crazy. Building a graphic essay is a lesson in concision, using the minimum amount of words to get to the point quickly instead of wandering around for pages on some roundabout quest to seemingly annoy the instructor. Instead of pasting the same panels together, one next to another, students become textually precise and let their pictures do the talking.

Visuals also help teach argumentation and underlying assumptions, or warrants - those fundamental beliefs taken for granted by the writer, beliefs and ideas we as readers also take for granted. Cartoons are great for teaching implicit assumptions by asking what a reader needs to know in order to understand the joke or to create a caption to accompany a visual.

For college level comic reading, assignment suggestions and more, click on >Graphic Novels for the College Classroom

ABOUT Doré Ripley

I have always loved historical fiction or books with an archaeological twist, sporting titles like Unsolved Mysteries of Ancient Marmalade or Who Really Killed Caesar? Cleopatra's View. So when I ran across the true life mystery surrounding the origins of Shakespeare's celebrated Globe theater it seemed a natural fit for a novel that explores how a woman could work within the masculine theater and society that produced Shakespeare.  I'm currently shopping The Player's Apprentice.

The climate where I grew up—the foggy hilltop corridor between the Pacific Coast and San Francisco Bay—created a need for sunny weekend trips driving me to the redwood trees and beaches of Santa Cruz, or winding through the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains or Sonoma County's wine country. I gave country living a try and spent some years in Mendocino County, but returned to the Bay Area when my husband and I found a home that provided the best of both worlds on the morning side of Mt. Diablo.

After leaving the corporate world, I began a "career" as a returning student and started dabbling in the academic genre--a genre filled with nominalizations and long sentences requiring frequent dips into the Oxford English dictionary. But what I really wanted from graduate school was something my parents couldn't give me—a reading list, a reading list that led to William Shakespeare.   I eventually earned a Master's Degree in English and still write conference papers, delivering talks on subjects ranging from fairy tales and comics to Renaissance and Medieval literature. I enjoy writing for a wide variety of audiences including popular magazines, scholarly journals, and textbooks.

As a Lecturer at California State University, East Bay and Adjunct Professor at Diablo Valley College, I teach critical reading and writing to a culturally diverse mix of college freshmen placed in a variety of thematic clusters that focus on literature (including comics) and nonfiction texts.  If you're interested in reading lists for the classroom and other general interests, including graphic novels or Shakespeare and his times >Click on Links.

MY FAVORITE Calvin and Hobbes

Subtitle: If you Can't Laugh at Yourself . . .