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Comics and Graphic Novels

ENGL 103.001
MWF 12:00-1:00pm

This course combines literary and historical approaches to investigate one of the most rapidly growing and increasingly influential forms of literature: the graphic novel. Popular yet understudied for over a century, comics are now critically recognized as a major form of communication and contemporary creative arts. The course represents an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge mirrored by the graphic novel’s joint ancestry in fine arts and literature. It will include a historical overview of the form’s development across the twentieth century, complete with analysis of relevant broader institutional and cultural factors illuminating the growth of American media culture more generally. Providing students with the critical skills necessary to read and understand this deceptively complex medium—and visual storytelling in general—the course exposes students to a series of works that define and redefine the genre while illustrating a variety of artistic & storytelling approaches to central themes of the American experience: politics, sexuality, class, censorship, violence, cultural and ethnic diversity.

Readings will include classic and contemporary works by writers and artists such as Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel, Charles Burns, R. Crumb, Neil Gaiman, Bernie Krigstein, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Harvey Pekar, Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, and others (including selected Manga). In addition, we will read selections from graphic narrative theory and comics history, beginning with Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. Assignments will include weekly discussion posts on Canvas, two short response papers, a web comic exercise, and a final exam.


Recitations with assigned TA's please see below for contact information and office assignments.


English 103.201 F 12-1:00 pm with Ajay Batra ( FBH 307


English 103.202 F 12-1:00 pm with Zachary Fruit ( FBH 238


English 103.204 F 12-1:00 pm with Alicia Meyer ( FBH 325


English 103.205 F 12-1:00 pm with Christopher Mustazza ( FBH 331


English 103.206 F 12-1:00 pm with Shawn Worthington ( FBH 317


fulfills requirements
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector III: Arts & Letters of the College's General Education Curriculum