Focusing on the concept of hero

In my last post I questioned whether this book could be categorized as literature or not, and after reading my classmates’ blog posts, listening to the discussion last week, sitting in on Professor Sample’s lecture, and revisiting my own questions; I want to completely disregard what I previously wrote.  I realize this probably makes me appear to be a tad wishy-washy, but in my defense I wrote my blog last week with the ulterior motive of what my boyfriend likes to term “poking the bear.”  I felt the need for some reason, possibly because I’m an organizational freak who likes everything to fit neatly into compartments, to place the graphic novel in a category.  Because I wasn’t exactly sure how I would categorize it, I looked to my classmates for input.  I knew that there would be many strong proponents in class of teaching graphic novels, so I poked the bear by challenging its place in the literature classroom hoping to get some strong reactions.  And I did. 

With all of that said, I’ve decided that the label isn’t really what is important here.  What is important is a text’s ability to evoke a strong reaction from the reader.  I think that this emotional response could be harnessed to develop a very meaningful lesson for students.

So, how would a teacher harness those deep emotional responses?

One issue seemed to be brought up several times in class last week – the issue of Nat Turner as a heroic figure.  I wonder if Kyle Baker included that phrasing in his preface to spark controversy, because that is exactly what it did.   Using this as a jumping off point for class discussion and activity could be very fruitful because it evokes such strong opposition from people.  Staging a debate among students could be one way to explore this idea, although it may be difficult to find students willing to argue for Turner being considered a hero.  Reading Nat Turner alongside other texts from that era (several people mentioned this, I think) would be a good idea.  The students could compare Turner to figures such as Frederick Douglas and Harriet Beecher Stowe and decide which is more heroic.  Perhaps I’m hung up on this idea of hero because one of my favorite undergraduate classes was called Heroes in Literature.  We read several different novels and explored the idea of hero throughout the entire semester.  I wonder what our reactions would have been if we were required to read Nat Turner?  I’m sure even the silent ones in class would’ve felt compelled to chime in on that discussion.