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Longview - Persepolis - Common Read Project

How to Teach Persepolis

As a graphic novel, Persepolis is an innovative approach to the traditional bildungsroman, or coming-of-age narrative. Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical tale weaves Iran's complicated history and political turmoil with young Marji's personal experiences growing up in an increasingly hostile country.

The comic strip format uses illustrations that facilitate a deeper understanding and empathy for people living in the Middle East during times of war and extremism. Satrapi translates the complex political and religious elements of the story into concepts students will be able to grasp, but it might be helpful for the teacher to set aside time for additional discussion about factors leading to turmoil in Iran and in surrounding countries.

Furthermore, it is important to discuss the significance of the graphic novel as both a piece of literature and as a piece of art. Encourage students to consider how images and text work together to form a narrative. Provide context for Satrapi's work by discussing other influential graphic novels, and discuss why she chose this format to convey serious subject matter, such as war, torture, and social oppression.

By Chris Griffith, Prestwick House