On October 25th, we had our first book discussion meeting for this grant’s theme, “Empathy: the Cost of Switching Sides.” We read and discussed Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. Octavia Butler wrote the original Kindred by and the graphic novel version was illustrated by Damian Duffy and adapted by John Jennings.
We started the meeting off with an ice-breaker: “Talk about an assumption people always make about you that is not true (or an untrue assumption you’ve had about someone else). Some students shared assumptions that others had of them based on race and gender norms.”
We then watched a couple videos: John Jennings talks about adapting the novel (1:32)
John Jennings & Damian Duffy talk about Butler & the book at Comicon (stop @5:20, 7:29)
Comic activity: Jam Comics
We then moved onto a comic activity called, Jam Comics. We handed out a white piece of paper divided into nine sections, and instructed each student to draw in a panel, and then pass it to the next person to draw the next panel, and so on. The writing prompt we used was, “People don’t know this about me, but…” This could be a character and didn’t have to be based on themselves! When all panels were completed, the students received the comic containing their first panel back and got to see how the story they started ended. The students had a blast.
We started the book discussion by reviewing the GSC Kindred PowerPoint as a discussion prompt.
We had a great book discussion that centered quite a bit around the theme of empathy, and we reviewed the meaning of empathy:
“‘Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings and condition from their point of view rather than your own.’- Psychology Today ‘In truth, empathy demands a great deal of us. To be empathetic requires us to embrace uncertainty, to loosen the bonds of loyalty and of history in order to truly imagines needs other than our own. To feel empathy is to relinquish a degree of power over another person, particularly the power that comes from violence.’- Essay by Anna Mae Duane about the ideas behind Great Stories Club.”
Some of the things we talked about:
- Is it okay to empathize with the oppressor?
- Why can’t Rufus empathize with others? Or can he? Does he?
- Can empathy be taught? Can you change someone’s mind about “the other?”
- Do you empathize with Rufus? As a child? As he grows up?
- “When you know better, you do better….” What if you choose not to do better?
- Are we products beyond our control? At what point can we change?
- Rufus wasn’t in an environment where he had to be held accountable. Even though Dana was his savior…. Is Dana an enabler or a savior?
We ended the the book club with some surveys, talked about our next book, All American Boys, and passed out copies to everyone.