Alison M. Mandaville
Seminar study of special topics in language and literary study. Limited to honors students majoring in English.
For AUTUMN 2003: Comics Literature. Comics have long been considered a “low” cultural art form. In this course, we consider comics as a genre worthy of academic attention. The course offers a whirlwind history of comics: early forms of writing in ancient times, medieval illuminated manuscripts, political satire and caricature, and contemporary comic strips and graphic novels. The ways in which the interaction of pictures and words produces effects special to this genre will shape our investigations. We engage in focused study of a relative explosion of late twentieth-century graphic novels globally. We will read texts by comics writers from around the world – including Japanese, New Zealand, American, and Iranian – about topics and themes as varied as the WWII holocaust, the first Palestinian Intifada, Lesbians and the media, Serbia/Bosnia/Croatian war, racism, the Iranian revolution, incest, apocalypse, and, of course, crimefighting. Questions of race, class, and gender, and colonialism inform this exploration of a genre that is popularly classified as being a western “white-boy” thing. Readings include both literary and critical texts. We will make at least one field trip to view the wonders of comics-related materials in the Suzallo Special Collections. Assignments include response papers, a creative project and presentation, and a critical research paper and presentation. Please read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics before the first day of class.
Class Assignments and Grading