Interrogating representations of transgressive women: Using critical information literacy and comic books in the Shakespeare classroom

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How can instructors and librarians collaborate to provide the interpretive scaffolds for students to critically engage with visual primary materials? The authors, an English faculty member and a faculty instruction librarian at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester (UNH Manchester), used graphic fiction as the textual basis of information literacy (IL) instruction, encouraging students to interpret primary and secondary sources using visual literacy heuristics and critical inquiry skills. Their student-centered, inquiry-based IL session for a Capstone Shakespearean Adaptations course focused on critical thinking and research question design. Using woodcuts from primary historical texts and images from contemporary graphic fiction adaptations of Macbeth, the instructors decentralized the classroom, empowering students to ask probing questions about illustrations of witches in early modern English source materials. Students used their questions to explore interpretations of visual depictions of powerful women in historical primary texts and contemporary graphic adaptations of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Guided by the instructors, students decoded images using the metadiscourse of graphic fiction; generated questions to inform their own inquiry into the topic; applied their IL skills to new texts; and interrogated the biases of received narratives about women who transgress societal norms and expectations, both in the early modern period and in the contemporary world.

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UNH Manchester Library

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Information Literacy

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Art Libraries Journal




Cambridge University Press

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