Everything Imagined is Real

Open Access
Rosello, Jarod
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 09, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Kimberly Anne Powell, Dissertation Advisor
  • Gail Louise Boldt, Committee Member
  • Christine M Thompson, Committee Member
  • Charles Richard Garoian, Special Member
  • comics
  • cartooning
  • pedagogy
  • arts-based research
  • curriculum
This arts-based dissertation constructs and explores the relationship between cartoonist and teacher, and seeks to disrupt and expand the possibilities for both cartooning and pedagogy. Constructed in two parts, this dissertation is simultaneously a fictional graphic novel and a series of eleven essays and writings that emerge from the graphic novel. As a work of educational research, this dissertation seeks to understand how comics and cartooning function as a form of inquiry and research; to explain how cartooning constructs new knowledge; to explore the embodied practice of making comics as a contribution to the growing field of comics studies; and to widen the boundaries of what knowledge, learning, and research look like, so that other teachers, researchers, artists, and students might find these practices large enough to participate in. The graphic novel, The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found, was inspired by a series of pedagogical moments, most of which involved drawing comics with children in various educational settings. This comic uses text and image against one another to explore the arbitrary relationship between signifier and signified. The artistic style, formatting, and narrative all work to complicate attempts by the reader to come to a stable, enduring interpretation. Instead, this comic asks the reader to remain open and shifting, to discard metaphor, and to experience the comic metonymically instead: through intensities, sensations, and tentative conceptual convergences. Both the making and the reading of this comic simulate the sensation of navigating complex and contradictory educational spaces: classrooms, schools, lessons, and activities. The essays and writings that diverge from this comic recontextualize the concepts and ideas of the comic into the settings from which they originally emerged, using cartooning as a lens through which to construct new understandings regarding teaching, learning, and being in the world. Broadly, this dissertation constructs a “comics consciousness” or a specific way of existing in the world as informed by the practice of cartooning. A comics consciousness, as theorized in this research, consists of a particular ontological and epistemological orientation. Making comics—like engaging in any art practice for a sustained period of time—begins to function as a lens through which one sees and constructs the world. As a cartoonist working in fragmented, unregulated, imaginative medium, I have begun to see the world and my pedagogy as one that privileges the ambiguity of fragmentation, embraces the subversion of working outside mandates and expectations, and experiences the impossible as though it were real. A comics ontology suggests that what exists is all that can be observed and felt, what can be imagined, and what is unimaginable but emerges through drawing. A comics epistemology suggests that we come to know what exists through the rational logic of observation, the irrational logic of sensation, the reconfiguring of what it is known into new possibilities, and the drawing of the unimaginable. We come know what is true by thought, feeling, imagining, and drawing.