Sunday, December 16, 2012

Welcome to the Course!

Humanities 4983: Graphic Novels (or, Comic Books as Literature)
Winter Intercession 2012 / Horace Mann 325 / Dec.17-28 (9:00-1:00)

“The comics creator asks us to join in a silent dance of the seen and the unseen.  The visible and the invisible.  The dance is unique to comics.  No other art form gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well.  That is why I think it’s a mistake to see comics as a mere hybrid of the graphic arts and prose fiction.  What happens between these panels is a kind of magic that only comics can create.”  --Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics 

Welcome to the course!  I look forward to offering this brief introduction to the comic book form, which I feel is one of the most innovative forms of 20th/21st century literature.  Comics were never kids' stuff, but they became associated with the rise of newspapers comics in the early teens and twenties, followed by the super hero explosion of the 30's and 40's.  Now, in the post WWII era, comics have expanded to truly literary realms, becoming bona fide novels that deal with more than super powers or travels to distant galaxies (though yes, this still happens!).  In this course, I will introduce you to 4 important works which we will discuss, examine, and consider from various perspectives.  Ideally, you will leave this class with an appreciation of the graphic novel as literature, art, and language--one that allows both writer/artist and reader to see a larger world than traditional literature is often capable of achieving.  
Click on the link below for the syllabus: 

Instructor: Dr. Joshua Grasso, Associate Professor of English
Office: Horace Mann 348
Office phone: 580-559-5430 (or x 340 on campus)

NOTE: Be sure to bookmark and visit our course blog:  Many required assignments and resources will be found there, and I will continue to update it over the next few weeks. 

Required Texts (in order of reading):
  • Miller/Mazzucchelli, Batman: Year One
  • Collins, Road to Perdition
  • Spiegelman, Maus I & II
  • Thompson, Blankets
Required Work:
Participation / Absences (15%); Daily Writing (20%); Blog Post (20%); Final Paper (45%)

Participation: In a 7-day course, participation=coming to class every day (unless special arrangements have been made in advance), having completed the reading and questions for the day, and being able to discuss or at least listen attentively.  Skipping class, sleeping, texting, or otherwise being disengaged will lower your participation grade.  However, I assume that everyone will get full points since this material is so riveting!  How could you not stay awake? 

Daily Writing: For each class except the first, you will have a ‘Response Template’ due.  This is a series of four questions (always the same) that you will answer for each work.  These responses are due on the day we read the work in question (ex: your first response is due in class on Tuesday for Batman: Year One). 

Blog Assignments: You technically have two short blog assignments due at any time during our course (Dec.17-Dec.28). 

(1)  The first one is simple, and counts as part of your ‘daily writing’ grade: post one of your four responses to the Template Questions as a ‘comment’ on the blog.  In other words, if you wanted to post on Maus I, you would simply write your responses as usual, and post one of the answers as a comment to the blog post.  This way other students can see your response and consider your viewpoint as they read the novel and write their own responses. 

(2) The second response is more involved and is worth 20% class of your overall grade.  For this response, I want you to read a sixth graphic novel outside of class (we’ll discuss this more on Tuesday) and write a Template Response over the book.  When you finish this, e-mail it to me and I will post it to the blog as a separate post.  This is due no later than Friday, December 28th by e-mail. 

Final Paper: This is a 5-6 page paper that answers one of three questions relating to current issues and scholarship over the graphic novel.  We will discuss this in detail on Tuesday, but the paper will require you to use two graphic novels as well as additional outside sources.  It will be due no later than Friday, January 4th) by e-mail. 


M 17: Introduction to Comics
T 18:   Miller/Mazzucchelli, Batman: Year One
W 19:  Collins, Road to Perdition
R 20:  Spiegelman, Maus I
F 21:   Spiegelman, Mays II

W 27: Thompson, Blankets
R 28: Blankets/ Wrap-Up

Some Graphic Novel Resources:
Ø (a site full of academic and popular content)
Ø (a blog full of comics news and events)
Ø     Gravett, Paul.  Graphic Novels: Everything You Need To Know.  New York: Collins Design, 2005.  (ECU has it!)
Ø     Lambiek Comiclopedia (an on-line encyclopedia of comics:
Ø     McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.  New York: Kitchen Sink Press, 1993 (I own it, will happily lend it to you)

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