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Peer-to-Peer, Graphic Novels by Myka Melville


Our Peer-to-Peer Learning continues with Myka’s presentation on the role of graphic novels in understanding and framing violent conflicts.


Graphic novels can be an engaging medium to spark critical thinking, ignite emotion and empathetic understandings. Myka presented four novels, MAUS (Holocaust), Footnotes in Gaza (Israel-Palestine conflict), VietnAmerica (Vietnam- US war), and Barefoot Gen (Hiroshima nuclear bombings), which showcase a range of events and conflicts that have taken place in the world throughout history. Each novel has become salient in the field of political science demonstrating that graphic novels can offer a nuanced perspective into subjects that are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to characterise in conventional writing.


Illustration has the power to depict both the heavy and painful experiences of conflict which cannot always be communicated through long descriptions or dramatisations; as well as the mundane moments of those living in conflict zones. By highlighting the multidimensionality of conflict, graphical novels can present key insights into the dynamics of conflict and on those who bare its burden.


Within peace-building, an argument can be made that graphic novels can contribute to understandings of conflicts in a way that is more approachable to a wider audience while allowing empathy building, an essential component for cutting through cleavages. Undoubtedly, Myka’s presentation offered us a unique perspective on the use of an alternative medium such as graphic novels, as a tool for engaging with political science.


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