Teaching Cartography with Comics: Some Examples from BeccoGiallo’s Graphic Novel Series

Giada Peterle

Abstract


This article suggests the use of comics, particularly of graphic novels, as valuable instructional tools for teaching cartography. Of particular interest is the idea that comics can be used to develop students’ geographical competencies, their ability to think actively about cartographical issues, and their capacity to interact with “maps as mappings” (Dodge, Kitchin and Perkins, 2009). The theoretical references used to conduct the deep interdisciplinary proposal and analysis include: the growing field of literary cartography, recent post-representational theories in cartography, and the emerging field of “comic book geography” (Dittmer, 2014). The article reads comics as maps and analyzes their map-like features to demonstrate that both maps and comics ask the reader-user to be actively engaged to decipher, orient, and practice them. Proposing to read “maps as comics”, “maps of comics”, “maps and mappings in comics”, and “comics as maps and mappings”, the article suggests the possible practical employment of comics in cartography classes. Furthermore, this study uses examples from BeccoGiallo’s comic series to demonstrate that graphic novels may help students become more aware map readers and users, by being involved in an active spatial practice. Finally, this article focuses on the unexplored educational potential of graphic novels by exploring the improvement of students’ understanding of post-representational cartographical approaches through comic use.

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