Secret Identities in the Classroom: Negotiating Conceptions of Identity with Comics and Bilingual Grade Four Students

    Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


    Most educators are unfamiliar with ways to use comics and cartooning, thus classroom opportunities for students to engage in a medium they love are uncommon. In this study, I investigate integrating the language of comics into classroom learning strategies and research some of the ways writing//cartooning can help students negotiate conceptions of identity. I wrote a lesson plan that weaved connections between making comics and curriculum, and taught theparticipants sequential narratives through freehand cartooning. This study investigates some of the ways drawing fictional comics support bilingual grade four students’ learning and negotiations of identity in the classroom. This is a qualitative research project that gathers data in the form of student-generated art and one-on-one audio interviews with three participants. A/r/tography, semiotics and life-writing inform the study’s hybrid methodology as I research grade four students’ understandings through comics. Conceptions of identity emerge in the participants’ comics, as well as in my own autographics.A class of twenty-five bilingual students participated in this study. Due to timeconstraints and the large volume of data generated, I narrowed the scope of the study to three participants, thus creating opportunities for more detailed analysis of information. Data tracking was supported by theories of authorship such as l’auteur complet [the complete author](Groensteen, 2012a; Uidhir, 2012) and l’écriture féminine [the feminine writing](Cixous & Clément, 1986; Sellers, 1996; Taylor, 2014). Deeper analysis of the students’ comics reveals that the perception/drawing/meaning systems (Cohn, 2012) involved with image-making create unconscious (Hancock, 2009; Jung & Franz, 1964) pathways for students to engage and negotiate identity. In this way, they are personally invested in the narratives they create and thus engaged to learn and explore. This engagement is amplified when their works are to be displayed and, especially, printed, as they were in this study. Students can tell stories, express concerns, and resolve issues when they make comics. Thus, implications for practice include, but are not limited to, finding methods to incorporate more comics into curriculum, legitimizing academic departments of comics studies, and investigating the intersectional, unconscious and multimodal relationships students negotiate when they draw comics by hand.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationMaster of Arts
    Awarding Institution
    • University of British Columbia
    • Han, Sandrine, Supervisor, External person
    Thesis sponsors
    Award date1 May 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2017


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