First-Year Reading Experience
"Quite a few graphic novels in the past 20 years or so have been a departure from the superhero genre: we're seeing memoirs, coming-of-age stories, and different approaches to what heroism is."
Andrew Kunka, an associate professor of English at South Carolina Sumter, teaches graphic novels and thinks Persepolis will resonate with Columbia campus freshmen.
"When I've taught Persepolis in freshman English here, I've been surprised by how well students have engaged with the material," Kunka said. "Satrapi makes her childhood growing up in Iran accessible to students in the United States even though it happened before they were born and took place in a very different culture."
Whitted teaches a May Session course entitled Comics in American Culture, which encompasses graphic narratives such as Persepolis.
"Comics are a part of American popular culture. We see them in newspapers, at the checkout counter in the grocery store," she said. "But quite a few graphic novels in the past 20 years or so have been a departure from the superhero genre: we're seeing memoirs, coming-of-age stories, and different approaches to what heroism is. This is its own art form with its own language."
Satrapi's use of black-and-white images to illustrate Persepolis offers an illusion of simplicity and reflects the world of absolutes--strict Islamic law and religion--that she found herself in.
"She is trying to find her way in a world that doesn't want to compromise," Whitted said.
Katie Jones, a rising senior graphic design major, created a poster that was selected to promote this year’s First-Year Reading Experience. “It was difficult designing a poster for an illustrated novel, but I focused on some of the key ideas and incorporated them into a veil,” she said.