Comics and Graphic Novels
Comics! Thats right, folks, we're gonna be reading lots of comics in this course. Some will be short, some will be long--we'll call those long ones 'graphic novels' (for fun and for added respectability). Popular yet understudied for over a century, comics are now critically recognized as a major form of communication and contemporary creative arts. This course combines literary and historical approaches to investigate this rapidly growing and increasingly influential form of literature, and will ultimately provide students with high levels of visual literacy to navigate todays ubiquitous multimedia landscape of image and text. The course represents an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge mirrored by the graphic novel's joint ancestry in fine arts and literature. Along with 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, the course emphasizes the critical skills necessary to read and understand this deceptively complex medium and visual storytelling in general. We will tackle a dazzling array of works that define and redefine the form while illustrating a variety of artistic & storytelling approaches to central themes of modern experience: politics, sexuality, class, censorship, violence, cultural and ethnic diversity. 'Nuff said.