Covid in Cartoons: Empowering a thick narrative of the crisis by promoting cultural literacy and diversity skills amongst vulnerable young people

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: College of Soc Scien, Arts & Humanities


Covid19 poses specific challenges for young people from vulnerable or minority groups, who may feel particularly disempowered by the pandemic (Wilton 2020). In order to restore their sense of agency and belonging, schools will not only need to remedy curriculum and attainment gaps, but also to create an inclusive framework that recognises the differential impact and lived experiences of the crisis, with a view to rebuilding social cohesion. Research shows that engagement with minority narratives is key to ensuring a cohesive processing of traumatic experiences and to avoiding competing memories that might underpin long-term divides and dynamics of victimisation. The project hence aims to foster a 'thick' cultural narrative, including diverse, contextualised views of the crisis and the future.

We will do this by promoting processes of meaning-making amongst 15 to 18 year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds, as this group faces challenging educational transitions. An online minicourse, delivered in collaboration with Shout Out UK, an award-winning educational platform, and Cartooning for Peace, an international network of cartoonists, will use political cartooning on the pandemic to engage participants with representational strategies, varying critical perspectives and humour to build their cultural literacy and diversity skills. By helping them to come to terms with their own as well as other experiences, the project will generate increased criticality, ownership and pathways of resilience.

Academic publications will map processes of cultural meaning-making and strategies for an inclusive social response and curriculum. An online anthology and end-of-project film and report will ensure broad dissemination of results.


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