Global Graphic Novels – MS Literature (hannah)

Note: This class is open to middle school students only.

In this class, we will read two different graphic memoirs about global geopolitical events, Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook and Maus by Art Spiegelman. Both of these books have recently ended up on banned book lists in schools and public libraries across the country. 

Banned Book Club is a memoir about Kim Hyun Sook’s experience in college in South Korea in 1983. This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protesters. In this charged political climate, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. Instead, she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. But in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.

In Maus, Spiegelman blends autobiography with the story of his father’s survival of the concentration camps during the Holocaust. The all-too-real characters here have the heads of animals—the Jews are mice, the Nazis are rats, and the Poles are pigs—a stark Orwellian metaphor for dehumanized relations during WWII. Much of Spiegelman’s narrative concerns his own struggle to coax his difficult father into remembering a past he’d rather forget. What emerges in his father Vladek’s tale is a study in survival; he makes it through by luck, randomness, and cleverness. 

This class will include in-class reading and discussion; lessons about the historical contexts of both stories; comparing / contrasting the narrative and art style of both books; occasional writing assignments; and other creative projects.

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