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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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8 Self-Reflexive Outsiders: The Waiting Room, The Photographer, and Palestine



Self-Reflexive Outsiders: The Waiting Room, The Photographer, and Palestine

The representation of self and others in a work of journalism is a different form of representation, one that makes claims to truth in ways that nonfiction and fiction do not. The works Palestine (Sacco, 2001) and The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders (Guilbert, 2009) are fascinating texts that can be used to examine the role of the author/artist in the representation of others. In Palestine, Sacco (2001) writes and draws unflinching stories of his own experience and interaction with Palestinians. While the narrative weaves through and around the lives of Palestinians, Sacco is never far from view, the stories clearly filtered through his lens. He is an obvious outsider and makes this status a central theme of the narrative. The Waiting Room (Glidden, 2011), Palestine, and The Photographer are graphic narratives by Western journalists who are self-reflexive in their reporting, not creating the standard objective distance expected of the craft. Sacco is especially self-conscious and creates a form of journalistic self-portrait of his time in Palestine.

These narratives are examples of Western representation that do not fall into the stereotypical representations of visual orientalism. Graphic journalism is a growing form of reporting stories that may be ignored by other forms of journalism through image/text. One of the central features of many graphic narratives is the inclusion of the author’s image and voice as ← 149 | 150 → central narrative focus, making...

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