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Abstract

Given the challenging depth of queer theoretical concepts, this article argues that one of the most effective ways to teach the complexities of queer theory is by utilizing comics in the classroom. I focus on how college-level instructors can use the content, form, and history of comics to teach students how to enact and do queer theory. By reading and making comics, students learn concrete and theoretical tools for combatting oppressive discourses and modes of meaning making. Teaching comics as queer theory promotes both innovative critical thinking and critical looking skills by centralizing both the rich history of queer comics and the queer potentiality of the form itself in class activities and discussions. Detailing specific lessons and analyzing comics such as Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, Ted Naifeh and Tristan Crane’s How Loathsome, and Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For, I examine three main ways that comics can provide unique contributions to queer theory pedagogical practices: by encouraging students to engage with the politics of representation, by teaching them to examine the queer potentiality of the form and function of comics structures, and by providing students with opportunities to envision queer time and space through comics architecture. The value of using comics as queer theory extends beyond the classroom to motivate students and educators alike to critically engage with the overlapping relationships between aesthetic, narrative, and social worlds.