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(Re)thinking Orientalism

Using Graphic Narratives to Teach Critical Visual Literacy

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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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6 From the Inside/Outside: Persepolis, Nylon Road, and A Game for Swallows

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CHAPTER SIX

From the Inside/Outside: Persepolis, Nylon Road, and A Game for Swallows

The series entitled Persepolis (Satrapi, 2003, 2004) is a contemporary classic in the genre of the graphic narrative, often cited as a text that provides a critical window into Iranian experience during and after the Iranian Revolution. The two books in this series tell the life story of author Marjane Satrapi, through her childhood in Tehran, Iran and her tumultuous transition to live in Europe. Nylon Road is a lesser-known graphic memoir by Parsua Bashi (2009), an Iranian woman who is now living in Europe. Though many details of their biographies are similar, the authors create very different graphic narratives of their experiences. Both of these texts provide a counternarrative about lives of Iranians to the ones that Americans encounter on the evening news, which focus on the regime’s hatred of America and its quest to obtain nuclear weapons. A Game for Swallows (Abirached, 2012) is the story of the author’s childhood home in Beirut, Lebanon, during the civil war that shattered homes and lives. As with the other graphic memoirs in this chapter, this text gives American readers a first-person narrative of life in countries and conflicts that are often unknown or misrepresented in the mass media. ← 115 | 116 →

Persepolis

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2003) is the most celebrated graphic narrative in the West about the Middle East. The narrative series recounts the...

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