The English, global studies, and art classes have teamed up with the English, global studies, and art classes from HIS in an interdisciplinary unit using Barefoot Gen as a source text before showcasing their skills and crafting their own graphic novels advocating for peace in another part of the world.
Barefoot Gen is an autobiographical graphic novel detailing Keiji Nakazawi’s survivor story from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The medium of a graphic novel is especially powerful when detailing such a tragic event. Many of the techniques and conventions of graphic novels can be studied in isolation and fully examined since we have so many other accounts of the story to compare it with.
Throughout our study of Barefoot Gen, we have been using Scott McCloud’s graphic textbook, Understanding Comics to guide our investigation into why they conventions of graphic novels can be so powerful. A sample of the type of lesson that we have been doing can be found here along with an accompanying video.
We are especially fortunate to have the opportunity to live in Hiroshima while studying the events that took place throughout this book because it provides wonderful opportunities for extension. Earlier this week students visited the Hiroshima Manga Library. Tomorrow we will be visiting the Hiroshima Peace Museum and Peace Park and comparing their retelling of the story to Nakazawa’s, and today we were lucky enough to have the wife of the late Mr. Nakazawa come and speak with our students here at HIS about her husband’s experience with writing Barefoot Gen. The interview room was a small office, but we all crowded into the next-door room to watch a live stream of the interview. A short video of our dual school reflection on this interview can be seen below.