A Masterful Assignment, A Haunting Portrayal

I think the way the readings were organized was masterful, really. Since reading Sheridan Blau’s book, I HATE having any contextual information given to me before reading *literature*. I like being able to piece together the story on my own and later learn about the author’s life and the historical context because I feel like I can get a clean, raw reading and not have it tainted by any other knowledge. I wish I would have read Thomas Gray’s Confessions  and looked at all the pictures before I read Greenberg’s essay. Having read all the essays before re-reading Nat Turner caused me to question how Kyle Barker portrayed Turner. Just because he didn’t use words to narrate the story, doesn’t mean he didn’t use some artistic liberties. I would argue that he used more because he narrates a story, but also paints the picture visually as well. Is Barker guilty of being what Greenberg described as a “grave robber” for his interpretation of Nat Turner (26)?

One of the hardest aspects of reading Nat Turner is seeing the visual depiction of men killing innocent children and knowing that it all happened to 31 infants and children. Having a two year old son and a six month old son, I am really sensitive to the slaughter that Barker displays in the book. So much so that I cried after the baby was thrown to the shark and again when the baby was killed in his cradle. After re-reading Nat Turner, I noticed how the killing of the babies was based on presumptions that they were both doomed. The black mother on the ship assumed her baby was doomed to mistreatment. The rebels assumed the white baby would grow up to be a slave master. In either case, the innocent children were not given the benefit of the doubt and those images will haunt me. 

Even though I’m scarred for life from this assignment, I think it’s hammered home to me of the impact that graphic novels can have in the classroom, especially when used in conjunction with other texts. I will definitely jump at the chance of using graphic novels… just maybe not Nat Turner.