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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

English (ENGL)

ENGL 136 (GH) The Graphic Novel (3) The graphic novel as a literary and visual form (produced primarily in English).

ENGL 136 The Graphic Novel (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course considers the graphic novel as a literary medium which joins text and image. The course explores the aesthetic of sequential narrative, its methods of production and consumption, and its place in contemporary culture.

I. Introduction
A basic outline of the medium, its generic range, and its reception in the United States.

II. History of Comics
An overview of the history of comics in the United States, with some discussion of Japan and Europe. The unit covers the development of comics in the United States during the twentieth century: newspaper strips, the comics boom of 1930s and 40s, the 1950s Senate hearings on the ‘corrupting influence’ of comics, and the abiding perception of comics as juvenile fare. This component also considers questions of marketing, reception, and gender across various genres.

III. Formal Analysis of Comics
Introduction to critical terminology and methods for the critique of the medium: panel layout, interplay between text and image, visual vocabulary and icons, and narrative techniques. This component will provide students with language and concepts necessary for critical analysis of graphic novels.

IV. Graphic Novels
This unit presents graphic novels primarily from the United States, all single volume works and nearly all the work of a single creator. The course primarily focuses on works originally written in English. The unit targets texts that have established an abiding influence in the medium (Maus) or received critical esteem (Fun Home, Jimmy Corrigan). Students will conduct close reading and analysis of specific texts using terms and concepts learned in the ‘Formal Analysis of Comics’ unit.

This course uses readings, images, lectures, and discussion to introduce students to the medium of graphic novels.
• Students will analyze formal techniques of the medium and understand its development as a popular form in the modern era.
• Students will encounter a range of perspectives and consider the challenges of representing history through an artistic medium.
• Students will learn to think critically about issues of identity, ethnicity, sexuality, history, and religion.

Individual instructors may vary their evaluation methods. One option might be:
Class participation: 20%
1 take-home exam: 20%
2 analytical papers: 40%
Presentation of secondary research: 10%
Book review: 10%

Students will gain a sense of the development of the medium across time, as well as an understanding of the place graphic novels hold in contemporary culture.

This course would be most effective in a technology classroom. The unit on formal analysis in particular demands projection capabilities.

General Education: GH
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2010

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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