Learning "Stuff" and Using V for Vendetta in the Composition Classroom
For the past two years, I have been experimenting with using graphic novels (specifically V for Vendetta) in my 200-level expository writing course at the University of New Mexico. The course is an extension of freshman English in that it emphasizes critical thinking and writing, but it has a central theme chosen by the instructor, in my case ‘Heroes of the People.’ Throughout the semester, I use a variety of different texts, from novels to movies to television to scholarly articles. We conclude with V for Vendetta, because it is a good way to combine the variety of skills the students have learned in considering different genres and media in addition to the blurred line V straddles between hero and villain. We analyze V for Vendetta as if it were any other literary text from our class; we find themes, analyze characters, and examine the contextual elements (history, setting, etc). In addition, of course, we explore the ways images are being used to complement or oppose the written text. In this essay, I discuss the various ways I use the graphic novel in my course and my students’ reactions, which are usually overwhelmingly positive. Moreover, I explore the ways in which we as college instructors can develop courses that include uncommon literary texts to still achieve our teaching goals of improving students’ reading comprehension, analytical thinking, and writing skills.