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Student-Created Graphic Novels from UCSD's Sixth College

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
July 28, 2012

In a recent blog post at DMLcentral, Liz Losh profiled the work of UC San Diego Ethnic Studies professor Wayne Yang. Yang asks the students of his Worldmaking course at UCSD's Sixth College to present their culminating research project in graphic novel format. The interdisciplinary course anaylzes topics such as racism, heterosexism, patriarchy, colonialism, and global exploitation through a study of worlds depicted in film, novels and short fiction, science fiction, art, music, and comics. For their final project, students create their own fictional world as a way of exporing the structures of social injustice. Students present their graphic novels to the public at a "Sixth College Comic-Con" event held on campus at the end of the semester.

In her post, Losh explains how Yang described his thinking behind assigning this project:

When students create sophisticated comic books, “you have a better sense of authentic engagement, because students aren’t just regurgitating or summarizing material merely with academic jargon.”  According to Yang, such students learn “how to perform theory without polysyllabic words” and how to feel as well as to articulate.

He argued “critical literacy” in both K-12 and college environments could be improved by engaging with “a taxonomy of different kinds of literacy,” including “traditional media literacy (reading and writing in traditional sense)” and “new media literacy (digital literacy).”

In researching Yang and his Worldmaking course, I came across a lot of student buzz about the Sixth College Comic-Con including a Facebook page and this fantastic video (below), which features student reflections and images from the students' graphic novels. You'll notice some hand-drawn images as well as computer-generated illustrations among the clips. What is most impressive is hearing these undergraduates explain the ideas represented in their novels. 

UCSD CAT's 2012 Comic Con! from Eunsong K on Vimeo.

Digital Is Resources about Writing Comics
Motivating Boy Writers: A Multigenre Approach by Jeremy Hyler
Serious Comics by Dave Boardman 
Writing with Pictures: Creating Comics in the Classroom by Nick Kremer