History Told From Different Perspectives

History told by Different Perspectives

By Stratton Gilmore

I am a firm believer that graphic novels are a great way to educate students with both text and visual elements within literature.  As students, we are able to see a point of view along with the narrative text.  Both of these elements create interest in the content as readers are able to learn about a new perspective in this world.  We have read many novels that are told from a perspective I know little about.  While I can’t relate to many of the experiences in readings like Bitch Planet and Fun Home, I have come to realize that meant I learned a lot.  These readings dealt with female perspectives that I don’t know as much about simply because I am a male.  We didn’t read historical graphic novels and I wanted to look at a couple to see what historical lessons can be taught. I looked at the Gettysburg: Graphic Novel by C.M Butzer which tells readers about the Battle of Gettysburg.  Using primary sources for this graphic novel, like first person letters, speeches, Lincoln’s writing of a reader is provides a true detailed picture of what this historical event was like.  The choices people had to face at this time including staying and helping their country is a lesson we are not taught in our traditional text books.  Seeing how the government affects all of our country’s people from their perspective is a great way to learn about this historical battle.  In New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld, one is able to see how people didn’t immediately evacuate.  To many people this choice sounds crazy, but to some people there, who had an emotional attachment or obligation that benefited someone else, did not think to leave right away.  They thought about family that needed help, or injured and sick people that would need help.  Hearing about this terrible event from these perspectives in a graphic novel can teach us that not everyone has the same choice in historical events.  In the graphic biography Malcolm X we are able to read, see and understand a side of his story that many of us didn’t know.  Much of Malcolm’s childhood was filled with terrible inhumane acts.  His dad being murdered and his mom going insane and going into a mental institution, all things we never learn about in traditional education.  We are able to understand the forces that influenced his great movement in civilization and learn new historical lessons as well.  These were just three titles that interested me and I encourage others to try and learn about history through a graphic novel.  Being able to read and see how historical actors influenced certain historical events, against other forces, mankind and mother nature was both interesting and intriguing.  The use of graphic novels  enhance teaching of history rather beyond what we receive from textbooks with lots of text and a picture here or there.  Hopefully more historical stories can be adapted and told in a graphic novel form.  For us as students the medium of the graphic novel makes us experience the story instead of trying to imagine what text would look like.  One will be able to better identify the relationships in these stories and how outcomes were caused because of how a graphic novel provides a better level of context.




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