Students in Of Comics and Culture, a class taught by Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Muther, spent the semester chuckling over comics and thinking about the social criticism and political commentary cartoons sometimes convey in their jokes.
In one class project, the students compiled comics that look at climate change, racism and social justice, the topics addressed by the campus-wide Teach-in held October 1.
The project “picks up on Bowdoin’s Intersections Teach-in that brought the Bowdoin community together to engage in meaningful conversations surrounding systemic inequality and climate destabilization this past fall,” Trey Brown ’16 wrote in an email he shared with some faculty and staff. “So now, my classmates and I are adding comics to the already multidimensional intersection between the crucial themes explored by the Teach-in.”
The students collected comics — from the web, graphic novels, Sunday funnies, “you name it” — that spoke to their respective experiences at the Teach-in, Brown explained. “We hope you enjoy them and continue to make connections between the challenges of racism, climate change, social justice…and the comics!”
The course looked at the history of comics in the United States, and examined how historical and contemporary comics deploy humor, irony, pathos and outrage in their messages. “The humor in comics lends itself to satirical play, capturing the tensions in different viewpoints that are generally difficult to voice, making it a vehicle for articulating problems and capturing the paradoxes we are all caught in,” Brown wrote.