Carolyn Gamtso, associate professor and head of reference & instruction at the UNH Manchester library, and Susi Paterson, associate professor of English, have co-authored a chapter in the book "Comics and Critical Librarianship: Reframing the Narrative in Academic Libraries" (Library Juice Press, 2019).
Comics as the textual basis of information literacy instruction provide distinct pedagogical advantages at the same time as they throw up obstacles to that pedagogy. Titled “Excavating Visual Texts: Information Literacy, Critical Thinking, and Comics in the Crime Fiction Classroom,” Gamsto and Paterson's chapter explores how students’ facility in decoding visual texts challenges instructors’ and librarians’ ability to provide the interpretive scaffold upon which students critically engage with visual primary materials.
This case study describes the instructors’ and students’ journey through Alan Moore’s graphic novel "From Hell," newspaper cartoons, broadsheets, and articles, and their uncovering of the anti-Semitic, xenophobic, classist, and gendered responses to the Whitechapel serial murders in Victorian London. Students discovered that visual depictions of events, such as in comic books or newspaper cartoons, can create static in their ability to engage in this textual archaeology.