Sunday, December 15, 2013

Welcome to the Course!

Welcome to ENG/HUM 4983: Graphic Novels, or "Comic Book as Literature."  This course is designed as an intensive introduction to the medium of graphic novels, or novel-length comic books.  Far from being a single genre, graphic novels encompasses many different genres and styles, from traditional super heroes, to science fiction, history, biography, memoir, true crime, horror, romance, and everything in-between.  We will read 4 representative books from the vast field of graphic novels in this course: Superman: Red Son, Maus I: My Father Bleeds History, Stitches and Fun Home.  You will also choose a 5th graphic novel to read on your own and eventually present to the class--and incorporate into your final research paper (but more on that later!).

Over the next few weeks, I hope to ask, and possibly answer, some of the following questions:
* Are graphic novels more art or literature?  Or both?  Or neither?
* How do you "read" art?  Should you?
* Are comics just for kids or teenagers (or boys)?  Are they really suitable for study?
* How old is the form known as comic books? 50 years?  100?  1,000?
* What is the 'language' of comic books, and how do we become fluent in it?
* Why are some stories easier to tell in a comic than in a novel--or a film?  What is the advantage of the comic book medium?
* Why are graphic novels the fastest-growing medium in literature today?

Be sure to consult the syllabus for the day-to-day operation of the class.  I will post daily announcements and links on the blog as the course progresses, so be sure to bookmark this site.  ALSO--check out all the graphic novels students have posted about over the past 2 years; it might give you some ideas for your 5th graphic novel.  See you on Monday!

--Dr. Joshua Grasso (

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