For Spanish teachers: the ancient Afroeurasian canon in comic form

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One of the touted benefits of Latin class is that the attendant cultural material often leads to in-depth looks at Greco-Roman myths foundational to euroamericano societies (one supposes “Western” culture would work as a byword), and even Judeo-Christian stories if your school administration is open-minded and good with accountability. Students may not continue reading Catullus (mildly NSFW link) after four years of Latin, but they’ll be equipped to decode references to Oedipus, the Trojan War, or the Flood narrative all over upper registers of English discourse. Or so the argument goes.

Supplemental reading material, however, can dethrone Latin as the class in which to master ancient Western allusions. In this author’s AP Spanish classes, the textbook was mostly supplemented with Spanish-language pop songs, though some of us snuck off with Octavio Paz and Reforma with the tacit blessing of the teacher. Spanish works covering ancient topics were never presented (and probably never presented to the teacher). However, the “Western canon” belongs to more than the English-speaking world, and Spanish class may be a perfect place to cover ancient tales while honing Spanish fluency.

If there were colorful world religion comics in the United States during the 20th century, they never turned up at the yard sales or used book shops that this author haunted. Mexico has produced many magnificent comics, but how many are pedagogically relevant? Answer: far more than the United States has produced (this is not a scientifically rigorous, scholarly opinion).

These comics might be too metal, too inaccurate, too irreverent (in the hands of teenagers, as these are pretty lovingly made on their own), too problematic (Jesus doesn’t look very much like a first century Judean), but they may be perfect for some Spanish II or III classes. Or just to recommend to curious readers.

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Greco-Roman tradition: The Abduction of Persephone; Prometheus Chained; Odysseus and the Cyclopses; The Mourning and Weeping of Oedipus

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Abrahamic tradition: From Adam & Eve to Abraham; The Sin of David; The Suffering and Death of Jesus; The Coming of the Holy Spirit

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Dharmic tradition: The Birth of the Ganges; Garuda, the Divine Messenger; The Buddha, the Enlightened One

Those are just the ones which caught this author’s eye. Here is a link to the Abrahamic comics, and here is a link to the collection of “mythological” stories from China to Africa to the Greco-Roman world (as often was the case in the 20th century, anything non-Abrahamic was deemed “mythological,” which of course is a problematic designation any wise teacher would address).

The big disclaimer, of course, is that legal issues may arise depending on how teachers use these links.

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