my magic number is 13

Today I begin my last term of grad school. There are thirteen weeks to a term, so as of today I am counting down weeks to the finish line.

My courses may be interesting this term: graphic novels and comic books in the library, which I'm excited about, and issues in children's and youth services, which is at least relevant to my career.

The term itself will be difficult, because both classes are at night, plus I will be working at least one night a week, possibly two. Working at night is fine, and standard for the public library, but night classes are tough for me. I am a total morning person. I do my best mental work before noon, and in the late afternoon, my concentration and mental clarity plummets. I'll need to come up with some sort of routine where I have downtime in the afternoon before going to class.

But who cares! Here we go... thirteen!


Amy said...

Yay! I can relate to the night class issue; when I teach at night, I have to come home and nap before I go back to class. Otherwise, I never take a nap unless I am sick.

I am also sort of counting down, but to retirement. Five more semesters, 70 more weeks of classes, ten more courses. Still a while off, but the light is at the end of the tunnel.

Enjoy the courses---they do sound interesting.

laura k said...

Amy, counting down to retirement, that's so exciting!

A few terms back I had a night class (my only one up til now), and had class during the day on the same day. I did exactly what you did, only I went to a friend's house who lives near campus. I would lie down for an hour or maybe two before getting something to eat and going to class.

This wonderful person gave me a key to her house for this purpose. Her idea! A lifesaver.

Also, I am the same way, I don't nap unless I'm sick!

John F said...

Comics and graphic novels! Very cool. I don't know your current familiarity with the field, but I will risk some suggestions.

Vertigo (an imprint of DC Comics) is a great publisher of adult, non-superhero titles. Neil Gaiman's Sandman is their best known. My favourite title in print, Bill Willingham's Fables, is also from Vertigo, as is Mike Carey's The Unwritten. Each one is unique, but all concern the power of story and myth.

Also, the kids love manga. I'm not into it myself, but it seems to sell. A frightening amount... ;-)

laura k said...

Thanks, John F! I'm very unfamiliar with the field, but I think it's hugely creative and important, that's why I'm taking the class.

I've only read a few biggies - Maus, Persepolis, Ghost World, maybe one or two others.

Wmtc faithful James is a big graphic novel/comics guy, and I've also gotten a lot of info from him.

Of course I can't use any of that in the class, but it's still good to amass.

laura k said...

I should add that part of why I'm taking the course is that most current librarians know little to nothing about graphic novels. I am carving out a bit of novelty for interviews. :)

John F said...

Of course I can't use any of that in the class, but it's still good to amass.

Right. Will you be assigned some titles to read?

One more suggestion: I haven't read this myself, but it was just featured on Boing Boing: Rise of the Graphic Novel. It was written by a librarian.

laura k said...

There are a few graphic novels assigned as examples as we discuss/ analyze:
- Maus
- Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics (a comic book about comics) - prof already said he doesn't agree with McCloud on everything but we will be analyzing his ideas
- a wordless woodcut graphic novel by Lynd Ward from the 1930s
- and a Japanese example (which is prof's are of expertise).

Then we're encouraged to read graphic novels of our choice on our own and relate the ideas of the course to them. One of those of our choosing will be for a group project.

Plus lots of articles about comics and graphic novels as they relate to libraries.

The focus of the class is (roughly) why comics were hated and vilified for so long, why that has changed - or has it, how much has changed, what remains of that attitude, how do comics and graphic novels figure in the library, how can librarians develop their graphic novel collections.

I had the first class last night and I can see it will be interesting - and easy. :)

Amy said...

I was an avid comics reader as a kid, mostly the Superman series, but also Archie and the other Dell comics (never bought those though, just read them at camp). My mother didn't approve, despite my assertions that it was improving my vocabulary (invulnerable, impenetrable, etc.). She made me promise to read one book for every comic book I read (hardly a terrible deal).

I look back on Superman comics with great fondness. I believe that they not only increased my vocabulary, but my imagination. My best friend and I would pretend to be the various Superman characters; I think it empowered both of us as little girls growing up in the 60s and allowed us to imagine ourselves as strong and ... invulnerable!

laura k said...

Of course I thought of you right away, Amy, when I enroled in the course. Your mom's objections were typical and typically silly, but her solution was excellent - a win-win.

We watched a clip of some anti-comic propaganda from the 1950s. I've also seen this in other classes - children's culture, intellectual freedom, maybe one other. There was full-scale censorship, blacklisting, even banning of some comics. It's a very interesting history, I'm looking forward to learning more... while I count down the weeks.

laura k said...

One female student said she wasn't allowed to read comics as a child - her mother said they were for boys. This is a young student, under 30.

Amy said...

My own view is that as long as a child reads something---literature, comics, teen gossip magazines, sports magazines, whatever---they are learning that reading brings pleasure. That seems to be the most important lesson because if you love reading as a child, you will (one hopes) always love reading.

laura k said...

Your view is the correct view. :)

Whether or not the child becomes a lifelong reader, the way to developing really strong literacy skills - not just being able to haltingly pick through a sentence, but being a comfortable, fluid reader - is to read, read, read. The more, the better.

And the way to read, read, read is to read something that engages you. Whatever that is, it is good.

AND strong literacy skills are highly correlative with educational success, which is highly correlative with improved life chances.

Therefore... kids should read, read, read what they like, like, like.

* * * *

In the graphics novel course I will also learn about visual literacy, which I know nothing about, and which is (I am told) a foreign concept in Western education. Reading comics and graphic novels teaches visual literacy, apparently.

Amy said...

Agree with all of that!

I am not familiar with visual literacy as a concept so will be curious to hear what you learn. Given all the comics I read, I hope I am visually literate!