2022-2023 L'IMAGE Project PI Journal
Journal #2: Ethics and Positionality
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L’IMAGE PI Journal #2: Ethics and Positionality
Alt-Text with long description
[Page 1, Title Page]
Top of page reads: UofT L’IMAGE Project: Language, Identity, Multiculturalism and Global Empowerment
Title over bright red banner: Principal Investigator (PI) Journal
Subtitle under red banner: Journal #2: Ethics and Positionality
Under the subtitle, a highly simplified, bold, cartoon-style depiction of the PI, Ai Taniguchi, is visible. She has light skintone (in black and white) and has long, wavy hair that is medium colored. She has her right hand under her chin as if deep in thought, and is looking at a page from one of her comics.
Bottom right of page: University of Toronto Mississauga logo and University of Toronto logos are visible.
[Long description of text and images in the comic strip:]
The comic strips in the L’IMAGE comic series uses the font Ames, which is the standard font for comics. Ames is an all-caps font. However, Alt-Texts for this project are not written in all-caps so that they will be more accessible for screen readers.
The comic artist for the series is Dr. Ai Taniguchi. Her drawing style can be described as: Japanese manga inspired, cute, large eyes, intentionally sketchy and unpolished line art, simplified, expressive. The comic strips are all digital, but she uses a pen that mimics the line weight of a traditional fountain pen. Her line art is on average 5mm in width (relatively thin), but the line weight varies and looks hand-drawn.
The title page of each comic strip is in color. It has a University of Toronto color scheme: navy blue, light blue, and bright red. The background is white with a navy blue frame. The references page and the “About the L’IMAGE project” page also have this University of Toronto color scheme.
The comic strips themselves are black and white, and employ digital screen tones for shading and backgrounds.
Top panel 1: Ai looks happy and seems to be humming a tune, holding what is probably a Wacom pen, with a Wacom tablet in front of her.
Ai’s narration: Making comics sounds like fun, right? It’s true, it is…
Top panel 2: A comical, extreme close up of Ai’s face.
Ai’s narration: “But!! There are things you have to be careful about when using comics for science communication.
Bottom panel: We see a page from Ai’s comic, although the details are not really visible. Handwritten text around the comic reads: Accessible! Easy to disseminate! Universal! Emotional!
Ai’s narration: “Comics have all of the advantages that I mentioned in my previous journal (and more), but there are a lot of ethical considerations you have to make when you’re telling someone’s story through comics.”
Top panel: We can see Ai’s right hand with a Wacom pen, drawing a page of one of the earlier L’IMAGE comics (Meryem’s story).
Ai’s narration: “As the artist of the comics, my voice necessarily underlies the stories that are being told. I control the artistic and narrative depiction. So the issue is: For each student’s story, how do I make sure tht it is being told authentically?”
Bottom panel: Ai is seen in the middle, with her mouth slightly open, gazing to her right. Hand-written text around her reads: Professor, Japanese-American, Immigrant, American English, US citizen, Canada PR, Educated in US, Neurospicy, Cisgender woman.
Ai’s narration: “I think the first step is to reflect on my own positionality. I need to think about what biases I might bring to the comics, given my background and experiences.”
Top panel: Ai is seen at the front of what is probably a classroom, with what is probably a Zoom meeting projected behind her. She looks happy. Four faces are seen in the Zoom meeting, and one of them is holding a pizza. There are four other people in front of her, with some of them holding a pizza.
Ai’s narration: “I shared my story with the students, too! I felt that this was the fair thing to do: they’re telling me theirs; I should tell them mine, too.”
Bottom panel: Ai is talking with a student with long hair and oval earrings. There is a person next to Ai taking notes on a laptop; it’s probably Ai’s RA Haili.
Ai’s narration: “I met with each student individually to hear about their experiences. Before the meeting, they were given topics that we might discuss so there were no surprises. It wasn’t really like an interview: more like an informal chat!”
Top panel: A comically depicted Ai has both of her hands in front of her, as if focused on something and thinking. She has headphones on. There is a speech bubble with an image of a girl wearing hijab (it’s probably Meryem from one of the L’IMAGE comics). Hand-written text around Ai reads: Which word did she use? What sentence structure?
Ai’s narration: “The meetings were recorded with the student’s permission. I listen to the recording before drafting each comic. This is where I put on my linguist hat and do some linguistic analysis of the student’s language use!”
Bottom panel: Four boxes that depicting email messages are seen, with a speech bubble with faces coming out of three of them. First email reads: “Looks great! But in this part, what specifically happened was…” Second email reads: “Yes, I’m happy with how I look in the comic!” Third email reads: “The Russian guy was like, HUGE!! Lol I think we should make him bigger.” Fourth email reads: “Oh I noticed another thing!!”
Ai’s narration: “Once the comic is drafted, there is a lot of communication!! Students get to review the comic and make editing suggestions.”
Top panel: Ai is holding a page from a comic, and is talking to a girl wearing a hijab (probably Meryem from an earlier L’IMAGE comic). Meryem is saying “3 sisters” with three fingers up. Ai is asking, “What length hair?” Next to this image, there is a comical depiction of Ai, and she is working on a laptop. There are speech bubbles coming out of the laptop, reading: Ukrainian dictionary. Hong-Kong cityscape. Nishnaabemwin Reference Grammar. Turkic Languages.
Ai’s narration: I check things with the students, like details of their story, how much fiction they want to put in the story to protect their identity, and whether they are happy with the artistic depiction of themselves. I also do a lot of background research, both as a linguist and an artist: language facts, reference images needed for the background, etc.
Bottom panel: A comical depiction of Ai, looking confused an sweating. Ai is saying, Düştü? Duşdi? Meryem is seen saying “professor this part is wrong lol!” with a small heart above her. Another woman (probably Lara Russo, expert consultant for the Turkish infographic) is seen saying, -iyor is often iyo! But here’s a good example!
Ai’s narration: “My positionality of ocurse comes with a lot of ignorance. With the help of the student participant and an expert linguistic consultant, we work together to make sure that things are accurate and authentic.”
Top panel: Ai is seen talking to a student (Alicia) and a consultant (Mary Ann). Alicia is saying “Can we phrase this differently?” Mary Ann is saying, “This page needs more nuance”. Ai is saying, Ok!
Ai’s narration: “My ignorance was at time huge when it came to Anishinaabemowin. I am grateful for the student, Alicia, and our consultant, Mary Ann, who were both extremely patient and generous with sharing their knowledge and experience with me.”
Bottom panel: Ai and Mary Ann (comically depicted) are seen shaking hands. There is a right arrow next to them, point to what looks like a cover of an Anishinaabemowin infographic. Mary Ann can be seen on this cover.
Ai’s narration: “In fact, the Anishinaabemowin “5-Minute Linguistics” infographic changed so much as a result of Mary Ann’s feedback, I felt that it would be unethical for me to take sole authorship of it. I am excited to present an Anishinaabemowin lesson told from Mary Ann’s first person perspective, in the form of comics!”
Top panel: Four L’IMAGE student participants and Ai are carrying blocks. It looks like they’re trying to stack up the blocks. There are five blocks, and each one has a letter on it: L, I, M, A, G, and E.
Ai’s narration: “At the end of the day, I think what matters most is trust and communication with the project participants. To tell their stories authentically, I need to listen carefully to the students’ input and respect their vision and boundaries. I am grateful that they’re trusting me to be their artist and messenger.”
Bottom panel: Ai is smiling with her mouth open, looking at the reader. Small flowers are seen around her to symbolize her happiness.
Ai’s narration: “Thank you for reading! Next time, I’ll show you more behind-the-scenes, including how much money it costs to do a project like this!”
Page title: About the L’IMAGE project
Project PI and comic artist: Ai Taniguchi, Assistant Professor, UTM Department of Language Studies
Research Assistant: Haili Su, MA Student, UTSG Department of Linguistics
Special thanks to: Gilbert Lin, Assistant Director, Intercultural & Global Initiatives, UTM International Education Centre
With the generous support of: UofT International Student Experience Fund, UTM Department of Language Studies, UTM International Education Centre
Learn more: http://www.lingcomics.com
Bottom right of page shows the University of Toronto Mississauga logo and the University of Toronto logo.