Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices brings together teachers and youth to read, write, make art, and change the world.
 
 

Remaking Maus

In 2015, and then again in 2018, eighth grade students from Delta Senior Alternative School and teacher candidates from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto read Art Spiegelman's (1986) graphic memoir Maus. Maus is a graphic retelling of Spiegelman’s relationship to his father, Vladek, who shares his story of surviving the Holocaust. Much as the book documents Spiegelman’s struggles to come to terms with being the child of a Holocaust survivor, the students and teachers grappled with questions about identity, memory, empathy, and the enduring legacies of historical trauma.


 
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What We Did

For both Maus projects (2015, 2018), we began with a silent conversation in response to panels and excerpts from Maus. This allowed us to generate questions, like the one above, that became touchstones for our collective inquiry.

Those questions led us to explore the history of the Holocaust by partnering with Rosanne Bernard, who shared interview data she collected as an interviewer for the Shoah Project, including the testimony of one of grandfather of one of the students in our class. We also partnered with a comics artist, Rebecca Roher, who led a series of comics making workshops for us. We aimed to approach comics making as a mode of inquiry, a place for students to think through their questions and responses to the text, not just in its content but also its form.

As part of our engagement with comics art, we spent some time drawing ourselves in animal form. Since Spiegelman chose to draw different nationalities as different kinds of animals, we wanted to surface some of the questions of identity raised by that choice. The process of thinking through how to represent ourselves as animals became a way to interrogate Maus and our responses to it

Maus 2018 - What it Looked Like: Project-Making

 Maus 2015 - What it Looked Like: Big Paper, Visiting The Art Gallery of Ontario, Project-planning, Art Panels in Process

 Maus 2015 - Creative Responses: Maus Art Panels

Maus 2015 - Project-Sharing

 

What Participants Said

“I feel like, you can know the statistics and know the stories (of the Holocaust). But like, this felt more personal. I kind of felt like it really happened and kind of not just know that it happened; I can kind of feel it emotionally.” - Student, Delta Senior Alternative School

“I’ve been really moved by all the insights I’ve had from (the students) the past few weeks that are helping me think about how I’m going to move forward and commit to the kind of work we’re called upon to do when we hear (these) testimonies.” - Teacher Candidate, OISE — University of Toronto

”I feel like, we as a group, as a community, entered a different type of sacred space today, interacting with stories, with testimonies.” - Teacher Candidate, OISE — University of Toronto

Publications

Simon, R., Gallagher, B., Walkland, T., Allen, A., Friesen, D., Evis, S.,  & Kalan, A., with youth from the Addressing Injustices Project: Matthew Burbidge, Nora Farrell, Julian Hetman, Marley Hosang, Talia Morais, Veronica Parks, Emily Raposo, Lucas Sanchez, Rami Simon, Griffin Stewart-Wilson. (In press, 2019). “We can’t ever let this happen again”: Addressing anti-Semitism through arts-based inquiry. In Confronting anti-Semitism on Campus. V. Stead (Ed.). New York: Peter Lang.

Simon, R., Evis, S., Walkland, T., Kalan, A., & Baer, P. (2016). Navigating the “delicate relationship between empathy and critical distance”: Youth literacies, social justice and arts-based inquiry. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 15(3), pp. 430-449.

 
 

Maus Zine

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Our experiments with comics making and reflections on the process, are compiled here in this zine. Download Maus Zine.

 

Resources

Facing History’s approach heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice; increases students’ ability to relate history to their own lives; and promotes greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democracy. https://www.facinghistory.org

Facing History Canada provides educators with the tools, strategies, and resources for students to explore themes of prejudice, judgment and justice, and civic responsibility. https://www.facinghistory.org/about-us/offices/canada

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offers resources on antisemitism, and Holocaust denial and distortion. https://www.ushmm.org

Voices into Action is a free online educational program that features tools for teaching and learning about human rights, including horrific events in human history like the Holocaust. https://www.voicesintoaction.ca

 
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