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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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11 Conclusion: Lessons of Critical Visual Literacy



Conclusion: Lessons of Critical Visual Literacy

As technological advances change the way we communicate and view the world through apps and mobile devices, the centrality of the image/text creates a dire need for visual literacy. Reading the world is no longer limited to reading the word; students need to be able to read images as they read text to decode for meaning, intention, and effect. Educational policy is moving away from teaching about the visual as arts budgets are cut and focus continues to be on the standardized assessment of reading and math skills. In this globalized world, students need greater instruction in critical textual, media, and visual literacy that engages with representations of difference in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and location. Postcolonial theory provides an analysis of global relationships of power and displaces the West as center of all knowledge and creativity. Critical multicultural education focuses on school as a social and political institution that functions to marginalize certain groups and privilege others. Border theory is in many ways a contemporary form of pragmatic philosophy that roots ambiguity in the traveling between cultural and geographic borders. Border theory is the connection between postcolonialism and critical multicultural education; it celebrates uncertainty and the doubting of assumptions that are embedded in imbalanced relationships of power and privilege. My focus on the use of contemporary, border-crossing graphic authors necessitates a form of critical ← 199 | 200 → multicultural pedagogy that questions Eurocentric, modern myths that are entrenched...

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