Revising the Rhetoric of “Boat People” through the Interactive Graphic Adaptation of Nam Le’s “The Boat”

  • Jennifer Phillips


In this chapter, Phillips focuses on Nam Le’s “The Boat” and its graphic novel adaptation to explore the contentious debates surrounding Australian asylum seekers. Le’s “The Boat” describes his own experience as a so-called “boat person,” taking the perilous voyage to Australia as a small child fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s. In 2015, this story was adapted into an interactive online graphic novel, which combines text and images with the use of soundscape and reactive text to draw the reader into the experience to a far greater extent than words on the page could. Phillips argues that this graphic novel has the effect of creating greater empathy within readers, as they are able to experience not only something of what it was like for Le’s family in the 1970s but also what conditions are faced by “boat people” coming to Australia today, with an emphasis on how using the graphic novel in the Australian setting empowers students to see the difference between political rhetoric and lived experiences.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Phillips
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Wuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.The University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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