Visualization Project

https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=1dI1hIVTtTJbyfKlLE_mBLHRTMmqL5Csvt27azGANQok&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650

As I completed the Scaffolding Project, it became clear to me how malleable comic book superheroes are, contorting to whatever and whoever the audience at the time needed. The lesson plan needed to be constrained in a certain way to keep its focal point apparent, but I grew more and more excited about how the topic could be discussed and interpreted. A crucial part of the lesson plan I made called for the students to create a graphic timeline illustrating various events and characters that helped form and create the super heroes we know today. This made me want to try my hand at creating my own similar timeline, now using a web-based platform.

Having chosen to do a digital timeline, I was reminded of two of the most crucial pieces of creating anything with these new digital tools: plan ahead and troubleshoot. From the moment I began my project I was met with challenges and road blocks. From the site given two us, the two web resources for timelines that we could choose from were Dipity and Capzules. The link to Dipity didn’t work, and despite my best efforts to access the site, I couldn’t, so I had to choose Capzules by default. The projects created with this platform looked professional, informative, and a similar style to what I had envisioned my project to look like. My time with the site however was cut short as nothing I selected would upload to my project. I restarted my computer, tried from multiple browsers, and scoured the internet for an explanation why but ultimately came up empty handed. Now I had to look for a similar service myself.

I read through multiple lists of the best free web-based timeline creation tools, and found a lot of good sites, but not many offered the exact look or style I wanted. Because these tools were all web based, most offered a very finite system allowing users to upload content, but the overall framework remained rigid and unchanging. I ended up going with Knight Lab’s timeline tool, despite the fact that it required a two-step creation tool that didn’t allow me to get immediate feedback on how it looked. Everything I wrote or linked to had to be organized in a Google Sheets template, copy the URL, take it back to Knight Lab, paste and export. It was annoying since if just one thing was off, I had to start these steps over again – even for minor typos or incorrect dates.

In the end, the effort was worth it as it turned out exactly like I wanted it to, and contains all of the necessary info and imagery I needed. Although I entered the exact dates, time periods, and names I had intended from the start, seeing the actual timeline form did give the idea a much more concrete form. These characters and the way we use them were influenced by so much in their creation, but are also influenced constantly by the evolving times around them. Large tent-pole events have altered these characters through the decades making them the well-rounded and weathered, yet somehow still timeless juggernauts they are today.

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Disciplinary Text Set

Using Superheroes as a teaching tool has afforded me the luxury of incredible customization and a nearly limitless number of roads to direct a lesson. I feel as though the topic can work and relate to nearly any group of hypothetical student or student group imaginable. While some may still associate superheroes and comics as a predominately white and male dominated facet of pop-culture, in actuality long gone are the days of the stereotypical Super Friends.

Here we can see how white men dominate the screen, and the only woman given any recognition literally has no pants on. Today, the medium is far more populated by things like a female Thor, an African American Captain America (which we’ll all just take a moment and appreciate the significance African American carrying the mantle of Captain America in today’s political climate), and a female African American Iron man.

While some have argued this over abundance of alterations and changes to include various genders and races is merely meandering, it cannot be denied that these characters are opening the doors to people who may have never been able to connect or relate to any super hero in the past. Minorities of race and gender want to believe in the super heroes too.

Thus, I feel these lessons could be tweaked and adjusted to meet any audience where they are. The texts themselves will remain largely in-tact as they all work together in illustrating just what superheroes mean and how something as simple as someone in a cap can symbolize things larger than life while inspiring enduring hope and courage. Using familiar topics and imagery students will be introduced by how much substance and power we can  both inject and extract from out of art.

 

Print

1 – “Archetypes, Commercialism, and Hollywood A History of the Comic Book.” Random History. N.p., 18 Mar. 2008. Web. 14 Mar. 2017. <http://www.randomhistory.com/1-50/033comic.html&gt;.

2 – Morrison, Grant. Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2012. Print.

I am using an exert from this book concerning Superman, his conception, and why people found, and continue to find his mythos so captivating.  In this text it describes Superman as an appeal to our interests in gods. The way he was sent away by his father to life amongst humans a direct representation of the story of Jesus Christ. It’s a fascinating deep-dive on the rt of the modern myth.

From the exert I transcribed through Storytoolz, it listed an average of about 6th grade for the text. This may have something to do with how little I am able to grab from the novel to get analyzed quantitatively, but this struck me as quite low. The text deals a lot with religion and mythology, and ties almost all aspects of Superman, from his inception to his decades of continuing tales, to various historical belief systems. What makes this so complex, is the way he weaves in and out of these symbols and belief systems with little or no introduction. The author assumes you know different cultures view serpents and what they represent. I found the word lengths deceptively inaccurate because most Greek gods referenced are at most six letters long.

Reading the text qualitatively, I would again gauge the text more towards students of high school age. There must be a level of context and history to be worked through before understanding the full implications of the text. It is hard to understand how important superman is as a god and a myth without knowledge of history. This is not an easily accessible text because of its historical context, one which I feel far too complex for a sixth grade class.

Vocabulary:

Hierarchical conformity

Apollo

Olympus

Zeus

Moses

Hindu Karna

Christ

Jor-El

Serpent

The purpose of using this particular text is to show how symbolic our art can be. Whether or not Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster meant to wrap so much symbolism in their creation in 1933, they nevertheless created something grandiose and worth dissecting. Their comic was the birth of something much larger than any one person, they created a symbol, a piece of pop culture, and a piece of undying history.

 

Multi-Media

3 – Jenny “Superhero Statitics” 4 May 2015                                                                    www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn8lBT_TxJ0

4 – Price, Natasha. “Why Is The Superhero Genre Excessively Popular At the Moment?” Movie Pilot. N.p., 14 July 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2017. <https://moviepilot.com/posts/4000006&gt;.

In this article, the author begins to describe just what may have lead to the super hero film genre to become so popular recently, and how that popularity feeds back into other forms of media. The text describes how these films have risen in prominence, particularly in the visual effects where they’ve gotten so good audiences can truly believe they are transported to new worlds where people with power can save the day.

When I had the quantitative qualities analyzed I was somewhat surprised by the results. I read the article, and although it list a large breadth of films over a large span of time, the quantitative seemed far higher than I thought it would be. Storytoolz evaluated the piece as a late high school level, which came as a surprise to me. The word use did not strike me as complex, and the article was arranged in a very step-by-step manner. The piece is also the shortest that I had reviewed.

The qualitative side of things seemed to me to fit nicely between late middle school and early high school. The text goes through a very limited scope of film history, and only notes select medias of importance. The author also avoids using any numbers or statistics to bog down her thoughts on this film genres recent dominance at the box office. This age group would also easily recognize or have some connection to all of the titles, characters and games mentioned throughout.

Vocabulary:

Marvel

DC

Box Office

Protagonists

Film Budgets

CGI

I liked this text because it read very easily and had a lot of solid information despite its short length. It touches on how and why we like seeing these characters on the big screen or why we like controlling them in video games. It breaks down into a few key parts that can be reduced to show a simple list of why these films are important and while continue to proliferate.

Culturally Relevant

5 – Andrea Letamendi, “Capes, Cowls and Courage: The Psychological Power of Superheroes” 9 July  2015                                                                                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv9nlrM28Ro

6 – Brown, Jeffrey A. “How Marvel’s Superheroes Found the Magic to Make Us All True Believers.” The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 31 Aug. 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2017. <https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/aug/31/marvel-superheroes-true-believers&gt;

This article describes how modern Marvel films have been encouraging and inspiring audiences. I included this article as culturally relevant because it perfectly sums up how we use these super hero films as a form of escapism. We need to know there are people, some gifted, some ordinary, can display extreme strengths, extreme courage, and extreme abilities in the face of adversity. The author specifically states how audiences are comforted to see cities like New York saved in a post 9/11 world. We are using superheroes to not only believe that we can bring out the best in ourselves and others around us, but also as a coping mechanism to remain hopeful when all hope is lost.

The quantitative assessment was about where I expected it to be in the middle high school range of 10th or 11th grade. The piece has a varied word use, and a mixture of both long and short sentences. The titles of the comics and films offer up a wide variety of words and phrases adding to the complexity of the text.There are select very specific art and film terms that add to the pieces overall complexity.
The qualitative dimension of this text is right in line with the quantitative. While the piece does not provide an excess of numbers or statistics to drive its point home, but provides a nice succinct piece of history that has lead us to today. It explains the importance of meaning these characters as we age and we can connect with them as something children enjoy, but that we can also enjoy as we age. High school is probably the earliest age students can start to reminisce and reflect on their previous life experiences to that degree.

 

Vocabulary:

Stan Lee

Fanboys

1950s Superman (George Reeves)

1960s Batman (Adam West)

Mise en Scene

Gargantuan

“The Cinema of Attractions”

 

I chose this text to be culturally relevant because it begins to get at what of the human condition we see in these bright heroes. How they inspire us in a bleak world. The author also doesn’t she from the fact that women are still often under represented in the ever-growing genre. Superheroes appeal to our real lives, as well as our fantasies, and are a perfect marriage of art and meaning. As the author puts it, the battlers of evil, ” appeal to our basic desire to see something spectacular” and this I feel is universal, no matter who you are or where you come from.

 

Even the Iron Giant, a robot who fell from the sky with no knowledge of our planet, wants for nothing more than to be Superman.

Where I am, and Where I Want to go

I thought long and hard about where I’d like to take my Inquiry Blog. I flip-flopped through a few concepts, wracking my brain to find something that

  1. I knew something about but could still research further,
  2. Ties into the readings of adolescent literacy and what that means – there must be some sort of literary or educational side to it

and finally,

3. I can’t get bored with the subject a week from now and find myself committed to a topic I care very little for.

In the end, I landed on something deceptively simple: Superheroes.

Comic books fundamentally manage to cover a lot of bases because of their drawn and written format. Mixing images and text create a complex form of storytelling all its own. Not to stop there though, superheroes have grown from those pages, and have seeped into almost every form of art and entertainment known to man. This resonated with me as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction defined Disciplinary Learning as “content knowledge, experiences, and skills merged with the ability to read, write, listen, speak, think critically, and perform in a way that is meaningful within the context”, and when you start to translate and adapt these characters and stories to different mediums, that’s exactly what you are doing.

Having grown up with comic books, they mean a great deal to me. I do know a fair amount of the long and sorted history, including the “Seduction of Innocence” legal battles of the 50’s (an emerging art form being labeled as dangerous, where have I heard that one before? Oh yeah, every emerging art form in history has been labeled as dangerous at one point or another).

I’ve always loved subjects that can work on two levels: the surface level for simple entertainment or for younger minds, and the deeper level with headier topics and denser content. Something like Pixar’s “Up” where children can see physical gags and colorful balloons, while adults can see Mr. and Mrs. Fredrickson are unable to birth children, and Mrs. Fredrickson passes away leaving no one else in Mr. Fredrickson’s life. This duality allows almost everyone to draw some enjoyment out of it, and I feel superheroes can walk that line quite clearly.

Where I would like to take this topic, is to delve deeper into the history of superheroes to see just what about them exactly is so engaging, and how they manage to resonate with almost anyone. Also, I would like to see just how superheroes are used in an educational context to teach more than just drawing skills and story writing, but also conceptual and emotional skills as well.

A few resources I have found thus far are:
A brief history of comic books

What is a superhero?

A book on what heroes can teach us about being human (I already own it)

–  The benefits of comics for reading skills

How to draw comics

and, whether or not I’ll actually use it for this class, I did quite like the title of this text

“Without Comics there’d be no me” Teachers as Connoisseurs of Adolescents’ Literary Lives

Welcome to my Professional Blog

Hello,

My name is Chris House. I am a returning student having taken a brief two-year vacation from the classroom after earning my BFA in Arts & Technology from UWM back in 2014. I am now studying towards an Art Education degree to hopefully teach grade school to middle school level art courses. A lot has gone into this decision, but in the end, I just knew I needed a change. I wasn’t happy at my desk job, and I felt my creative talents being largely wasted. I knew I needed to find something more my speed where I could help and inspire others.

For my relevant photo, here’s a comic illustrating a speech given by the Author Neil Gaiman (One of my favorites). As someone who has always loved art, this has been a huge inspiration to me, but it also gives words to the feeling that anyone and everyone can and should find some solace in the arts (Please click on the image to hear the full speech).
make-good-art