Portraits of Violence. Critical Reflections on the Graphic Novel


  • Brad Evans University of Bath




Violence, Graphic Novel, War, Critical Pedagogy, Portraits


This essay provides a critical reflection on the graphic novel. Addressing the pedagogical importance of the genre and it’s wider cultural influences, it also attends to the lessons learned from the production of the Portraits of Violence book. In doing so, it seeks to provide an introduction to the ways graphic novels can enhance critical understanding, especially when dealing with difficult problems such as violence.



Adams, J. (2008). The Pedagogy of the Image Text: Nakazawa, Sebald and Spiegelman Recount Social Traumas. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 29(1), 35–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/01596300701801310

Agamben, G. (1998). Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power & Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Berger, J. (1972). Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin.

Blassingame, J. (Ed.) (1982). The Frederick Douglass Papers, 1(2). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Burger, A. (2018). Teaching Graphic Novels in the English Classroom. London: Palgrave.

Burmack, L. (2008). Visual Literacy: What You Get is What You See. In N. Frey & D. Fischer (Eds.), Teaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills(pp. 5–25). California: Corwin Press.

Coffey, M. (2012). How Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums and the Mexican State. Durham: Duke University Press.

Critchley, S. (2002). On Humour: Thinking in Action. Abingdon: Routledge.

Critchley, S. (2019). Tragedy, the Greeks and Us. New York, USA: Pantheon.

Dreifus, C. & Spiegelman, A. (2004). A Comic Book Response to 9/11 and Its Aftermath. The New York Times, 7 August. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/07/arts/design/07SPIE.html

Eisenman, S.F. (2018). William Blake & the Age of Aquarius. New Jersey: Block Art & Princeton University Press.

Eisner, W. (1985). Comics and Sequential Art. New York: Poorhouse Press.

Evans, B. & Manning, E. (2018). Histories of Violence: Neurodiversity and the Policing of the Norm: Brad Evans interviews Erin Manning. Los Angeles Review of Books, January 2. Available at https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/histories-of-violence-neurodiversity-and-the-policing-of-the-norm/#!

Evans, B. & Wilson, S.M. (2016). Portraits of Violence: An Illustrated History of Radical Thinking. London, UK: New Internationalist.

Giroux, H. (2016). Foreword. In B. Evans & S.M. Wilson (Eds.), Portraits of Violence(pp. 7–11). Oxford, UK: New Internationalist.

Grierson, T. (2004). Believe the Hype? In the Shadow of No Towersby Art Spiegelman. Blacktable.com, 20 September. Available at: http://www.blacktable.com/grierson040920.htm

Jacobs, D. (2007). More Than Words: Comics as a Means of Teaching Multiple Literacies. The English Journal, 96(3), 19–25. https://doi.org/10.2307/30047289

Levi, P. (1991). If This is a Man. London: Abacus.

Louden, W. (1994). Literacy in Its Place: Literary Practices in Urban and Rural Communities. Overview and Interpretations. Canberra, Department of Employment, Education and Training.

McCloud, S. (1993). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper Collins.

McCloud, S. (2000). Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form. New York: Paradox Press.

Rancière, J. (2014). Figures of History. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Revermann, M. (2014). The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Russell, G. (2000). Print-Based and Visual Discourses in Schools: Implications for Pedagogy. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 21(2), 205–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/713661150

Shaw, C.A. (2014). Satyric Play: The Evolution of Greek Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spiegelman, A. (1986). Maus. New York, USA: Pantheon Books.

Spiegelman, A. (2004). In the Shadow of No Towers. New York, USA: Pantheon Books.

Subcomandante Marcos (2005). Conversations with Durito: Stories of the Zapatistas and Neoliberalism. New York: Autonomedia.

Whitson, R. (2006). Panelling Parallax: The Fearful Symmetry of William Blake and Alan Moore. Interdisciplinary Comic Studies, 3(2). Available at: http://imagetext.english.ufl.edu/archives/v3_2/whitson/

Wolff, C. (2004). In the Shadow of No Towersby Art Spiegelman. Post-Gazette.com, 19 September). Available at:http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04263/380995.stm

Young, J.E. (1993). The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. New Haven: Yale University Press.




How to Cite

Evans, B. (2021). Portraits of Violence. Critical Reflections on the Graphic Novel . Sociologica, 15(1), 241–263. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/12283



Re-formats: Envisioning Sociology