Leonard N. Rifas
B CUSP 131
Various topics designed to respond to curricular interests and needs for first-year students. Offered: AWSp.
In this course, we will consider the history, achievements and problems of comic books and graphic novels. We will study how comics grew to become an accepted and respected medium.
This course surveys the history of comic books and graphic novels in relation to other media, and in relation to various ethical problems of representation. We will study cartoonists’ works both as channels of human expression, and as evidence of changing and differing cultural conditions.
Student learning goals
At the end of this course, students will be able to explain how different institutional arrangements have shaped the work of individual cartoonists who have created comic strips, comic books, comix, manga, bandes dessinée, and graphic novels. Through understanding these arrangements, you will become better able to analyze those graphic narratives that can help us explore our connections across differences of race, gender, ability, religion, age, language, sexual orientation, and/or class.
Students will be able to join reason and imagination to interpret comics and to investigate non-obvious ways that comics communicate meaning.
Students will be able to discuss the social and ethical dimensions of current controversies over drawings by cartoonists who are working in various cultures around the world.
Students will be able to interpret and (optionally) create works that expand the visual language of educational comics to include maps, graphs, and diagrams.
Students will combine writing and drawing to create an original one-page comic.
Students will design (or accept) a research question and share your research findings using appropriate media.
General method of instruction
Illustrated lectures, in-class writing, cartooning lessons, discussion, films, quizzes, guest speakers, and student presentations.
No cartooning experience necessary. No previous experiences reading comics or graphic novels is necessary. General reading and writing skills will be important.
Class assignments and grading
Each week's assignments will include three or four options to chose from.
Course grades will be based on quizzes (20% of course grade), participation in in-class assignments (20%), short weekly writing assignments (20% of course grade), participation in a class-drawn comics project (20%) and a final project (20% of course grade.) I will accept late work for half-credit (but in the case of the final presentation, I will only accept late work if an alternate presentation time becomes available.) Your level of drawing skill will not influence your course grade.