Brugen af tegneserier i historieundervisningen

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Søren Christian Winther
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis will examine how comics can be implemented and used in teaching history. This will be done by
analysing and discussing the two autobiographical graphic novels: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. As the two works are autobiographical there will be
distinguished between writer and character by using first and last names i.e. the character in Persepolis will
be referred to as Marjane and the writer Satrapi and the same with the character Guy and the writer Delisle
in Pyongyang.
The theory used mainly be from Danish scholar and historian Anne Magnussen who have used and
researched comics in her teachings and academic works. She will be used in regards to the format itself and
its semiotic properties but also how the format is implemented in a possible teaching situation. Her
theories on the format are based on many of Thierry Groensteen’s theories and he will also feature
prominently throughout the thesis. His theories will be focused mainly on format and analysis. Several
other researchers will of course be featured and combined these form the basis of the analysis and
subsequent conclusion and discussion. Especially in regards to experience with teaching comics in the
history class many different researchers have been used in order to get as broad a perspective as possible.
Persepolis was originally published as two books, later as one, which becomes clear when reading through
the analysis. As such the first half focuses heavily on the child and later young Marjane and her life in Iran
during the Islamic Revolution and her later departure from the country. The second focuses on the
teenager and later grown up Marjane, her life in Europe and later return to Iran where she is tries to live in
accordance with the new regime and her experiences from Europe. The book ends with her leaving for
Europe again but this time on her own conditions.
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea revolves around Guy Delisle and his trip to the North Korean capital
of Pyongyang. Here he works as an animator and is taken to see the sights of the city and some of the
people inhabiting it. He usually comments on the sights shown but also provides background information
on most of them and the country in itself.
The two graphic novels can be divided into two autobiographical categories: graphic narrative and
documental graphic novel. A graphic narrative is focused on the personal story as presented by the writer
who emphasizes the constructed reality through the drawings. A documental graphic novel is focused on
the larger narrative which tries to document certain events by telling a story with methods borrowed from
fiction hence the use of novel.
Persepolis is more a graphic narrative and Pyongyang is more a documental graphic novel. Combined the
two can provide an excellent look on two of the states in the axis of evil as mentioned in former president
George Bush’s speech in 2002. Persepolis can furthermore be used to examine how childhood memories
are remembered and addressed in adulthood. Pyongyang has some disadvantages due to many of the facts
becoming obsolete due to age but it does nevertheless show North Korea from angles a camera could not
have provided. Not only do the presented comics elaborate on closed regimes but they also humanises
The comics serve as examples shows that the format can indeed be used in the history class room as they
provide a visual aspect not found in more common historical sources. Furthermore, they provide a nice
break from more traditional texts and can in fact help students who have trouble reading or engage those
that find history boring. Comics should, however, not be used blindly as the format often neglects to
mention origin of information. As such the format should be accompanied by further literature on the given
subject as is the case with any historical text.
Publication date30 Aug 2016
Number of pages72


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