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Manga Studies #4: Traversing Art and Manga: Ishiko Junzō’s Writings on Manga/Gekiga by Shige (CJ) Suzuki

I. Who is Ishiko Junzō?[1]

Arguably, one of the first Japanese critics to discuss graphic narratives (story manga) for mature audiences is Ishiko Junzō (1928 – 1977).[2]  Initially active as an art critic who explored a wide range of contemporaneous artistic and popular movements, he began to publish writings more specifically on manga between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. To many English-language readers his name might be obscure, perhaps even more so than his contemporary, philosopher and cultural critic Tsurumi Shunsuke, whose book Sengo Nihon no taishū bunkashi (A Cultural History of Postwar Japan 1945-1980)—a chapter of which is devoted to postwar manga—is available in English. Yet, in present-day Japanese-language manga research, Ishiko is repeatedly referenced, especially in relation to his media-specific discussion of manga. This article shall introduce art critic Ishiko Junzō and his scholarship, concentrating on his contribution to Japanese comics criticism and manga studies.

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Posted by on 2014/08/11 in Guest Writers, Manga Studies

 

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Maus in the Indonesian Classroom by Philip Smith

As regular readers of Comics Forum are aware, the site recently featured a Themed Month which sought to examine comics as cultural production. The issue looked first at the work of comic book authors (Woo 2013) and ended with an autobiographical account of one scholar’s experiment as a comic book retailer (Miller 2013). In the following article I hope to continue to chart the life of a comic book by examining one particular comic after sales as it is read not by academics, but by a much larger demographic of comic book consumers: teenagers, specifically, Indonesian teenagers.

There has been a debate concerning the role of comics in language acquisition and literacy which can be traced back to the 1950s when Frederic Wertham, among others, argued that comics cause retardation of reading ability (Wertham, 1954). Many modern scholars argue that comics serve as a gateway to literacy (see, for example, the Canadian Council for Learning website, 2013).[1] This article will document my experience and observations as a teacher who uses Art Spiegelman’s Maus in the Indonesian classroom with advanced English-learners. I will describe how I prepared the students to read Maus, the concepts and history which I taught alongside the text, and what the students themselves brought to, and drew from the work.

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Posted by on 2014/02/18 in educators, Guest Writers

 

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Using Comics to Teach Philosophy, Inclusively by Joyce C. Havstad

As an educator, I’m always looking for new ways to engage students. As someone who teaches philosophy at a large state school—in fact, at a prototypical American Research University—I’m always trying to convince college students that my subject matter is truly relevant, to their lives and to their budding careers. At the very least, I try to make philosophy fun. And one of the tools that I have developed to help achieve these goals is to use visual arts, especially non-traditional arts like comics, in the classroom.

So, the rest of this post is going to be about what I’ve observed from using comics in the classroom. I’m going to focus on two main things: one positive, and one less so. I think that both of these observations are worth taking seriously.

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Posted by on 2014/01/17 in educators, Guest Writers

 

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Keep watering the rocks by Di Laycock

For goodness sake put that graphic novel down and get yourself a real book to read.

Overheard in the school library, this comment was a short, but far from simple, remark made to a student by a colleague. Given the work I’d done with this teacher as to how graphic novels might be used in the classroom, I was disheartened to hear that graphic novels still struggled to make her literary cut. And whilst another colleague once told me not to waste time ‘watering the rocks,’ a part of me wasn’t going to give up so easily – I enrolled in a professional doctorate and grabbed my watering can.

The above scenario took place nearly six years ago, around the same time that Carter (2007) suggested graphic novels ‘still remain largely on the fringes of the [teaching] profession’ (p. 1). To reposition graphic novels more centrally, added Carter, more success stories of their use in schools were needed.

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Anthropology goes Comics by Hannah Wadle

While film and photography have fallen on fertile ground from the early days of Anthropology and moulded the sub-discipline of Visual Anthropology, comics has not yet become an equally respected and applied ethnographic methodological tool and format of presenting anthropological knowledge. There are a few individual artists-anthropologists, who contribute to a discussion on comics and anthropology, but thousands of anthropologists returning from fieldwork, with their numerous little diaries, filled not only with written notes, but also with sketches and drawings, leave their graphic work behind and begin with their “real work”, the writing, as soon as they are back in their home universities.

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