Drawn to Change

Drawn to Change: Academia, Activism, and the Potential of the Graphic Medium for Conscientização in Canada in the 21st Century
Speaker: Sean Carleton # Trent University
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Date and Time
21st Feb 2013 17:00 - 21st Feb 2013 18:30
Seminar Room 3, Chrystal Macmillan Building

Graphic novels and comic books are no longer just for kids; they are for adults, and they are for academics and activists, too. In this article the history of comic books in North America is surveyed, with particular attention to the Canadian dimensions, and the new phenomenon of “graphic novels” analyzed in relation to Paulo Freire’s concept of critical consciousness, or conscientização. The graphic medium holds great potential for conscientização in the 21st century, not only because of the popularity and accessibility of comics and graphic novels, but also because graphic works require readers to actively engage with the message of each book which can inspire a shift in consciousness encouraging readers to take action in their own lives. Using Freire’s concept of conscientização, this paper will examine a number of recent Canadian graphic works including The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book, Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story, The Anti-Capitalist Comic Book, May Day: A Graphic History of Protest, Bloody Saturday, The Klondike, and Escape to Gold Mountain. These political graphic works and their contributions to the literature on racism, Indigenous peoples, and the left and labour in Canada make a case for the graphic novel as an important tool of activism and create a space for academics to consider the various ways in which the graphic medium can be further developed to cultivate conscientização in Canada in the 21st century.