ENGL 242 A: Reading Prose Fiction

Reading Comics as Literature

Summer Term: 
A-term
Meeting Time: 
MTWT
Location: 
MGH
SLN: 
11310
Instructor:
Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges

Syllabus Description:

Historically, critics have considered comics a low‐culture form written primarily for children. In the late 2000s, however, the New York Times—a publication aimed at educated adults—added graphic novels to its book review roster. Our class will focus on comics as a complex literary form. Students will learn how to critically read the interaction between text, image and frame. They will also interrogate the distinction between “comics” and “graphic novel” by looking at the industrial and cultural contexts in which the latter label emerged and questioning what type of work is included—and omitted—from each description.

Although we will briefly examine the genre’s history, we will concentrate on contemporary fiction and non‐fiction work, including Frank Miller’s and Paul Pope’s reimaginings of Batman in The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year 100; memoirs from Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Ellen Forney (Marbles); young adult fiction from Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese); and historical fiction from Jason Lutes (Berlin). Students will also have the opportunity to tour the bookstore and gallery of Fantagraphics, a Seattle comics publisher, and to attend a class reunion at the March 2016 Emerald City ComiCon.

In addition to reading theories of how comics function as literature, we will explore comics criticism and write some of our own. The course final project will be a comic collaboratively authored by groups of 2‐3 students.

Additional Details:

Historically, critics have considered comics a low?culture form written primarily for children. In the late 2000s, however, the New York Times—a publication aimed at educated adults—added graphic novels to its book review roster. Our class will focus on comics as a complex literary form. Students will learn how to critically read the interaction between text, image and frame. They will also interrogate the distinction between “comics” and “graphic novel” by looking at the industrial and cultural contexts in which the latter label emerged and questioning what type of work is included—and omitted—from each description.

Although we will briefly examine the genre’s history, we will concentrate on contemporary fiction and non?fiction work, including Frank Miller’s and Paul Pope’s reimaginings of Batman in The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year 100; memoirs from Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Ellen Forney (Marbles); young adult fiction from Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese); and historical fiction from Jason Lutes (Berlin). Students will also have the opportunity to tour the bookstore and gallery of Fantagraphics, a Seattle comics publisher, and to attend a class reunion at the March 2016 Emerald City ComiCon.

In addition to reading theories of how comics function as literature, we will explore comics criticism and write some of our own. The course final project will be a comic collaboratively authored by groups of 2?3 students.

Catalog Description: 
Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 11:28am