About once a month, I get asked by a colleague or friend for the syllabus I used to teach my seminar on the Graphic Novel at Amherst. Included below is a list of the texts that I used to teach students. In that seminar I allowed optional creative exercises and finals, and that led to me teaching tutorials in the making of comics, which led to me advising two graphic novel theses to summa honors. I’m very proud of those students, who were both also awarded the English Department’s prize for best thesis. Amherst’s English department was very generous and supportive in the teaching I did there throughout, and I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work of all of my students.
I taught the class as an experiment, even an expedition of a kind, and so it was never the same every time. I began teaching it because more graphic novels…
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Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to speak, as T. S. Eliot puts it, ‘in different voices’. We use language as an index of belonging. At the moment, there’s an idiolect, which I’d like to imagine would immediately tell me whether or not I’m in the presence of the sisterhood. ‘Silencing’ is the new favourite Participle Of Oppression for all parties. Fourth wavers talk about language as a form of literal violence. Radfems say unsisterly things about fourth wavers and bite our tongues. We all thank the goddess for Rebecca Solnit coining the term ‘mansplaining’, and Deborah Cameron writes brilliant critiques of all the idiotic pseudo-scientific arguments that all misogyny would disappear if only women would learn to Talk…
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So remember that thing I applied for?
My application was successful. I was selected to take part in a project at Scotland’s Craft Town, the wonderful West Kilbride. I’ve been a massive fan of the Craft Town since I first found out about it a few years ago, so I’m massively chuffed to be a part of it. The project I’m involved in takes selected craft makers based in Scotland, at various stages of their careers and gives them specialist business mentoring and studio space for six months. For the first time in over a decade I am being mentored rather than mentoring others, which has been quite a shock to the system.
The first meeting of the participants, organisers and business mentors involved an exercise where we had to think of things that limited our business or things that we were worried about and then we had to…
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The revelation that a museum promising to be ‘the only dedicated resource in the East End to women’s history’ is instead opening as a Jack the Ripper Museum – telling the story of a Victorian serial killer – has rightly sparked outrage and astonishment. But eschewing social history in favour of misogyny and murder is far from uncommon in our public historical storytelling. One of those behind this museum, Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, explained his decision to change its focus:
‘We did plan to do a museum about social history of women but as the project developed we decided a more interesting angle was from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper.’
(You can read more of the original planning application here.)
This project is only the furthest extreme of a general trend in historical presentation, which takes ‘interesting history’ to mean ‘violent and masculine’. I had…
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