THE WORLD WAR TWO GROUP discussion

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GENERAL DISCUSSION AREA > Graphic Novels

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 2 comments Have you ever used graphic novels in the classroom? If so, what did you think? Pros, cons? Any suggestions of specific titles for a World War II 11-12 grade classroom?


message 2: by James (new)

James | 61 comments Well, if you're going to address the Holocaust, Art Spiegelman's two-book series is excellent - he won a Pulitzer with it. The titles are "Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History", and "Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began".
Spiegelman based the books on the life of his father and stepmother, both of whom were Holocaust survivors. It's poignant, grim, very sad (of course), and occasionally funny.


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 2 comments Awesome James! Thanks for the feed back!


message 4: by Míceál (new)

Míceál  Ó Gealbháin (miceal) Personally, I don't like the idea. 11th & 12th graders should be at an age where they do not need novels in the form of comic books to entice them to read. But that's just me. I'm old school and not very open minded.


message 5: by James (new)

James | 61 comments Dr. Michael, I'd say it's not about 'needing' graphic novels - it's another genre, with its own strengths and weaknesses just as more traditional novels have. There's a difference between graphic novels and comic books, just as there's a difference between a Saturday morning cartoon and a deeper, more serious animated film - Maus I and II, for example, are serious literature. I doubt they'd have won a Pulitzer if they weren't. You ought to look at them before passing a dismissive judgment on them.


message 6: by Míceál (new)

Míceál  Ó Gealbháin (miceal) Told you I'm an old fashion narrow minded sob. I'd rather see them read Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi, I Can Not Forgive by Rudolf Vrba, The Diary Of Anne Frank or Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally. I'm sure the books you've recommended are fine but young folks two and one year away from college should not need drawings as a motivating factor.
I'm not a fan of animated films either. Well, maybe Yellow Submarine.


message 7: by James (new)

James | 61 comments There's no need for it to be an either/or matter, just as it's not a matter of 'needing' drawings as a motivating factor - I'm sure these students are reading books without pictures as well. There was a time when purists turned up their noses at the idea of a novel, too, dismissing it as shallow, trashy, and sensationalist. I think they were mistaken.

I think your opinion might change if you actually took an objective look at some of the better graphic novels. As Herbert Spencer said, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”


message 8: by Míceál (new)

Míceál  Ó Gealbháin (miceal) Alright James, I'll take a look but I'm not promising anything. I'll add to Mr. Spencer's argument that when you reach my age you get an automatic right to be comtemptuous. Now you know why I no longer teach.


message 9: by James (new)

James | 61 comments I'm living backward. I knew more and was a lot more contemptuous when I was a teenager than is true now that I'm 50; by the time I die I probably won't know anything at all.
Discussing these books has prompted me to take them off the shelf again. Elie Wiesel's 'Night' and Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl' brought me to tears - in the case of Anne Frank's diary, both when I read the book and when I saw the play - as did the film 'Schindler's List'; 'Maus I' and Maus II' have the same effect on me. One of those stories that bears repeated reading, and each time leaves me thinking that it's even better than I remembered.



message 10: by Míceál (last edited Jul 15, 2009 07:23PM) (new)

Míceál  Ó Gealbháin (miceal) I'm going to take a look at your two recommendations. If they affected you so strongly, as did Anne Frank & Schindler, then I owe it to myself to investigate them. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? When I was young I was a niave idealist and no one could disagree with me. An intolerant liberal. Now I'm just an old cynic. But at times I can be swayed.


message 11: by James (new)

James | 61 comments Maybe it's strange, but 20 years in the Marine Corps somehow changed me from a rigid young Republican who saw a simple all-or-nothing world to a more humble (I hope), skeptical liberal who's long since lost count of the shades of gray.

I think part of the reason Art Spiegelman's work hits me the way it does is knowing that it's about the actual experiences of his parents and other extended family members in Nazi-occupied Poland, and that the second book moves to a more contemporary American setting and shows how his father's character is still largely shaped by the Holocaust, and how that affected their relationship until his father's death.

The portrait he presents of his father rings true for me after more than twenty years of working with people with PTSD as a therapist (and being classified as a disabled vet myself due to my own PTSD as well as some purely physical problems.)


message 12: by Michael, Assisting Moderator Axis Forces (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) | 292 comments One of the best books I have read on the concentration camps was the graphic novel The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman by Art Spiegelman


message 13: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenmarylesshankman) | 99 comments I love this book. The way it depicts the descent from ordinary life into the madness of the Nazi regime, as well as what it's like to survive parents who are Holocaust survivors. My kids all read this book; it really brought it home for them in a way other books don't.


message 14: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth Marsden (BillyRuffian) Charley's War - Omnibus

These graphic novels of the Great War are second to none. You can even see some of the original artwork in the Bovington Tank Museum (as well as the only remaining working Tiger 1 in the world!)

To End All Wars

The above graphic novel has not yet been released. Again, it covers the great war, and some of the art was done by my friend who, I can honestly say, is one of the best pen and ink illustrators about.


message 15: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth Marsden (BillyRuffian) Also, what everybody should keep an eye out for is the upcoming animated film, 'Panzer 88'. Telling the story of a German King Tiger crew trying to get home from the eastern front, it's got some great names on board who worked on films like The Empire Strikes Back, and Blade Runner. Can't wait.


message 16: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18209 comments Sounds interesting Kenneth!


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