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(Re)thinking Orientalism

Using Graphic Narratives to Teach Critical Visual Literacy


Rachel Bailey Jones

(Re)thinking Orientalism is a text that examines the visual discourse of Orientalism through the pedagogy of contemporary graphic narratives. Using feminist, critical race, and postcolonial theoretical and pedagogical lenses, the book uses visual discourse analysis and visual semiology to situate the narratives within Islamophobia and neo-Orientalism in the post-9/11 media context. In the absence of mainstream media that tells the complex stories of Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world, there has been a wave of publications of graphic narratives written and drawn from various perspectives that can be used to create curriculum that presents culture, religion, and experience from a multitude of perspectives. The book is an accessible, upper level undergraduate/graduate level text written to give readers insights into toxic xenophobia created through media representation. It provides a theoretical foundation for students to engage in critical analysis and production of visual media.
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1 Introduction: Bringing Theory to Practice



Introduction: Bringing Theory to Practice

The purpose of this text is to present the context of the representation of difference and the way that students in American schools learn about those who are different from them. To confront and challenge stereotypical understanding, I argue that educators need to first present the problematic, stereotypical images and text for analysis to understand how and why more authentic representations can counteract bias and lead to change. The first four chapters of the book establish the theoretical and historical context for the analysis of media and graphic narratives that follow in Chapters 5 through 10. This introduction lays the framework for the media and texts that are analyzed in later chapters. This also presents the theoretical and analytical foundation for the rest of the text, including comics theory, critical visual analysis, critical visual literacy, critical race and feminist theory and pedagogy. The first chapter gives the historical context of colonialism, postcolonialism, and Orientalism that explicitly or implicitly informs all of the graphic narratives in the text. Chapter 2 goes into more depth about visual modes of representation of difference and the encoding of visual language in the service of narrative. The third chapter traces the fundamental impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11th on the representation of Muslims in the United States and global relationships. This dovetails into the fourth chapter that begins the analysis of contemporary works of fictional ← 1 | 2 → and nonfictional representations of difference,...

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