Rachel Adams interviewed for Columbia News on the relevance of her class “Comics, Health, and Embodiment” in the age of COVID

November 5, 2020 – Topics of Interest

English and Comparative Literature Professor Rachel Adams is teaching a course titled “Comics, Health, and Embodiment” this semester that looks at graphic narratives with a focus on embodied identities such as gender, sexuality, race, and age. She was interviewed for Columbia News to discuss the relevance of this course during the age of COVID.

Q. Once the pandemic started, how did you reshape this course to reflect quarantine and COVID?

A. I had developed a course on gender, comics, and health with a grant from the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality quite a while ago, but then various things came up and I never had a chance to teach it. When it came time to submit course requests for this year, my department associate chair and I agreed that this class would be a good fit. I learned that I would be teaching over Zoom and was advised to cut down the amount of readings. I did three things to adapt to the changing times:

One was to revise the assignment where students produce their own comic. It was initially a more open project (students writing any story about their experiences with gender and health), which can be tricky because some students have fascinating stories to tell and others feel anxious about not having anything interesting to say. But we are all experiencing the pandemic. Our experiences are extremely varied, but everybody has one, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to focus more on students telling their stories of COVID.

Second, as advised, I reduced the assigned readings and left three weeks for students to present group research on comics that have been produced in response to the pandemic. One group will look specifically at educational comics designed to promote public health measures like hand-washing and mask wearing. The other two groups will look at how healthcare providers, graphic artists, and ordinary people have responded in comic form.

Third, in response to the BLM protests, I included more comics by people of color, and about issues of racial difference.

To read the rest of the interview, visit Columbia News.

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