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Seeing Ourselves: Representation In Comics

September 29, 2017

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Professor Don Lowman is known for using comics as an efficient means of conceptualizing the complexity and density of contemporary issues like race, sexuality, and homelessness. A senior lecturer of queer studies at the University of Bonn in Germany, he primarily focuses on gender and the ideas surrounding gender and their complexity continues to gain attention and nuance in cultures and countries around the world.

Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani-American teenager from Jersey City named Kamala Khan

In his recent lecture at TLU as part of the 2017 Krost Symposium “Connecting With Comics,” Lowman shared made the case for using comics in the classroom. His presentation, “The New Superheroes: Minority Representation in Comics as an Educational Tool,” explained why they are so effective when teaching.

Why comics?

  • They’re instructional tools
  • They improve/foster literacy
  • They’re multimodal (incorporate words and pictures)
  • They show representation
  • They can provide historical context
  • They can dismantle stereotypes

Covering everything from Superman’s pro-immigrant stance and the experiences of young lesbian in Fun Home to the tales of a Muslim teenager in Ms. Marvel, Lowman makes the case for comics as a serious educational tool.

Fun Home by Allison Bechdel

“Comics can help us navigate through things, even trauma,” Lowman said. “They express life stories people can identify with and that’s especially important for anyone who can pick up a comic and see themselves represented.”