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Paying Attention: What Graphic Novels Can Teach Us About Human Rights

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Ethan Morin

In 1946, Miné Okubo published Citizen 13660, a graphic narrative of her life in the internment camps that Americans of Japanese descent and Japanese immigrants were sent during WWII. Okubo was an artist, so she illustrated life in the camps. This analysis of Citizen 13660 draws on Michael Galchinsky's paper ""The Problem With Human Rights Culture"" which deals with the relationship between art and human rights. It examines conventions and devices of the graphic novel genre according to theorists Scott McCloud, Will Eisner, and Rachel Rys, using their work to understand how graphic novels operate within a ""theory of comics."" How does Okubo's work conform to this theory, and how does it distinguish itself? This essay also looks at Citizen 13660 as a work of human rights art, representing the graphic novel genre as a whole and how it might contribute to human rights. This paper explores the role of human rights literature in allowing readers to understand and interpret history through the lens of the lived experience of individuals as opposed to the lens that is provided by institutions, which may be incomplete, lack nuance, or be actively harmful to specific communities. Citizen 13660 represents the way that graphic novels allow readers to interpret history through the experiences of people who lived it, therefore contributing to a culture that is more aware of human rights and more empathetic to ways in which they are threatened or infringed upon.
University / Institution: Utah Tech University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION B (10:45AM-12:15PM)
Area of Research: Humanities
Faculty Mentor: Brooke Hotez
Location: Union Building, PARLOR A (11:25am)