Students Practice Visual Adaptation with Canva

A creative approach to teaching an undergraduate survey of literature

In my teaching statement I say, “Visual aids in class can help students develop an understanding of narrative elements.”

My undergraduate Masculinity in Literature and Film students at University of Louisiana at Lafayette practiced a common trope of “A Man in a City” through a series of creative exercises.

After watching The American Friend (1977) and reading In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes (1947), students write their own short story.

Students developed their own fictional, gendered protagonists moving through a city through a creative forum prompt.

Over the semester, they expanded and revised their stories, created a visual adaptation, and presented to the class.

A Man in a City, a forum prompt

In order to approach creative writing, a form some students had not encountered, it was important to set constraints.

View the forum assignment.

Students had directions like “Develop a Character” (10 min) with specific questions to think about.

For instance, “Thinking About the City” (15 min) was all about placing your city in a time and place. 

Students posted their draft to our online forum for class feedback.

Creative writing and visual adaptation

By revisiting their stories in the 2nd half of the semester, students were able to further their thinking of genre and gender tropes.

View the short story expansion and Canva assignment.

Check out some great excerpts and their visual adaptions below.

All work is shared with signed permission from the student.

“Blind Intentions” by Hunter Lewis

Hunter is an undergraduate finance major at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Blind Intentions by Hunter Lewis

“As I lay in my room overlooking Abbeville’s notorious Vermillion River, I can think of nothing else but her face, the face of the woman that falsely accused me of killing her daughter.

It was 1978, segregation had ended, but racism had not…”

“The day I reported to Angola State Prison I thought my life was over…”

“During my two years in prison awaiting sentencing I had a great amount of time to think. I wondered what my life would become if I was found guilty, how could I make this asylum a home.

I also wondered if I was found innocent, would I be able to return to the life I once had before…”

“Abe Ramsay” by Camille Rosson

Camille is an undergraduate biology major at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Camille Rosson "Abe Ramsay"

“Most people wanted to be an astronaut, doctor, or lawyer when they were younger. I, Abe Ramsay,  have always dreamed of being a high-class fashion designer.

Ever since I was young, I would wrap curtains, tablecloths, and blankets around myself and act as if I had made a magnificent dress. I was a man that wanted to cut and sew fabric for a living…”

“The person in the hoodie heard me scuffling through the snow and fired his gun.

I let out a small scream of shock as I saw the victim’s body thump against the pavement…”

“I darted towards the main street of the city to call for help. I had been running for so long I hadn’t noticed the cherry red fabric had fallen out of my backpack…”