Print Version

Effective: Summer 2014

Advisory: Advisory: Demonstrated proficiency in English by placement as determined by score on the English placement test OR through an equivalent placement process OR completion of ESLL 125 & ESLL 249.
Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Humanities Transferable: CSU/UC
4 hours lecture. (48 hours total per quarter)

Student Learning Outcomes -
  • Apply literary theory to graphic novel or memoir.
  • Demonstrate thesis driven essay writing about the graphic novel.
Description -
Introduction to the history of graphic communication, emphasizing the burgeoning and dynamic form of contemporary graphic narrative: from memoir writing, to crime fiction, to the superhero, to socio-political writing. Explore how the history and evolution of this distinct literary genre has made it a relevant form of expression for artists and writers across the world and how reading comics challenges traditional modes of reading. Because this form of storytelling is used by artists all over the world to express the human condition and specific socio-cultural insight, the course inspires world-wide cross cultural awareness.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Understand and situate the modern form of graphic narrative in world historical and literary contexts
  2. Recognize and apply basic literary terminologies, theories, categories, motifs, and genres appropriate to an introductory college-level discussion of literature.
  3. Critique graphic narrative with greater insight and work to seek cross-cultural understanding
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
Access to internet when offered online.

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. History of communication
    1. Evolution of communication toward writing
      1. Speech/Symbols
      2. Cave painting, petroglyphs, pictograms, ideograms, writing, alphabet
      3. Focus on the early pictographic forms as sequential narrative art
    2. History of comics
      1. Early narratives in visual art (15th-20th century)
      2. Defining comics
      3. Superhero comics: golden, silver, bronze, modern
      4. Variety of forms and emerging forms
  2. Application of literary theory to graphic writing
    1. Modern Criticism: New Critical and Structural criticism
      1. Plot, theme, structures
      2. Imagery, symbol, metaphor
    2. Post Modern Criticism: Deconstruction, Feminist, Marxist, Psychoanalytical and other literary theory
      1. Multiplicity of meanings through different lenses appropriate to textual/visual analysis
    3. Visual analysis
      1. Composition, contrast, point of view, framing, text placement
    4. Genre analysis: Memoir, Fantasy, Crime, Superhero and other genres
  3. Critique and analyze graphic writing
    1. More than Superhero: separate content/form
    2. Visual only storytelling
    3. Reading panels/ reading text/ conflict and synergy
    4. Intertextuality/ Metatextuality
    5. Socio-cultural issues addressed through graphic writing
    6. compare/contrast similar forms or themes across cultures
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. At least two critical papers and/or essay exams.
  2. Quizzes, journals, midterm, oral reports, and/or final exam.
  3. Participation in classroom discussion.
Representative Text(s) -
Wolk, Douglass. Reading Comics; How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. Cambridge: De Capo, 2007.McCloud, Scot. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.
Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 1986.
Spiegelman, Art, Maus: A Survivor's Tale. New York: Pantheon, 1996.
Auster, Paul City of Glass adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli. New York, Faber and Faber 2004.
Keiji, Nakazawa, Hiroshima: The Autobiography of Barefoot Gen. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 2006.
Bechdel, Allison. Fun Home: A Family Tragic Comic. New York: Mariner, 2006.

Although this text is older than the suggested "5 years or newer" standard, it still remains a seminal text in this area of study.

Disciplines -
Method of Instruction -
  1. Lecture
  2. Discussion
  3. Small Group activities
Lab Content -
Not applicable.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
  1. Compare/contrast 2 graphic novels in 2 separate genres, to examine how the artform employs the use of text and image to evoke a message for readers.
  2. In what ways do text/image create meaning in the graphic novel, across genres?