Images for Irony

In classes like AP Literature or IB Language & Literature, I’m always seeking to expose instances of widely misunderstood concepts like, for example, irony. Take situational irony, please. (Get it?) Now, that’s just bad humor, not situational irony. Situational irony is based on an occasion resulting in an outcome radically different than that which we might expect. Satirists often build on situational irony by using hackneyed conventions that we all recognize in order to undermine some assumption that we all share or something we take for granted. Stephen Colbert creates situational irony in his super pac ads, like the one below that mocks super pacs and super pac ads through a super pac ad about super pacs.

But, of course, this blog post is about images and their use in the classroom. I use images often for media literacy,to get a class’s attention as we begin to explore a book, or for explicit visual literacy instruction and practice. As an avid photographer, I believe in the power of an image and that I have a hard time capturing that power!

Here is an image that I could use to teach situational irony, covering the final panel and asking students to predict the outcome. It works – as does the awesome “Book World” comic linked above – because it’s punchy, quick, and darkly funny. Once the expectations are exposed, the last panel’s situational irony is unavoidable; if the expectations of students aren’t exposed beforehand, they will sometimes play the “saw it coming” card for cool points. Thank heavens for The Perry Bible Fellowship and Married to the Sea (my favorite), though be forewarned, they are sometimes inappropriate in their humor.

Anyhow, that’s me and images.

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