Summer 2011
Fully Enrolled

HUMS 626
The Graphic Novel: Story, Word, and Picture in Contemporary Graphic Narrative


07/04/2011 - 08/05/2011
Tuesday & Thursday 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM

Downey 100

Since the ground breaking publication of Art Spiegelman's Maus in 1993, "graphic novels" have entered the global cultural mainstream. A truly multi-cultural genre, comics created by men and women around the world now appear in U. S. high school and college curricula, hold the attention of academic critics, and earn big box-office returns in cinematic adaptations. Though dubbed "graphic novels" by publishers to signal their high-culture aspirations and achievement, outstanding examples of the contemporary book-length comic actually appear in many literary genres. In this course we will survey the current field and read works of fiction (such as The Watchmen and Jimmy Corrigan), autobiography (Maus, Persepolis, Fun Home and 100 Demons), journalism (Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde), and what we might call "comic theory" (Understanding Comics). And just as comics have become a global medium, they are perhaps inherently postmodern. Many contemporary comics are self-conscious about questions of form and theories of representation, a characteristic that will help us formulate new versions of the questions often considered in literary study. How do words and pictures drawn together in sequential narratives tell stories? What different skills are needed to comprehend this complex play of image, language, and time? What can graphic books do that other books cannot, and what are the constraints that shape this form?

Texts may include: Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk, Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi,Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco , Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, 100 Demons by Lynda Barry, Jimmy Corrigan and Quimby the Mouse by Chris Ware, Epileptic (L'Ascension du Haut Mal) by David B., Ghost World by Dan Clowes, City of Glass by Paul Auster, Paul Karasik, and Dave Mazzucchelli, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Heartbreak Soup by Gilbert Hernandez, and Good-bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Assignments for this class will include two 3-4 page close readings (one of the pictures, the other of the words), a 7-10 page critical essay, and the creation of a short comic that engages some of the themes encountered in the readings: the connections between private and public history, the experience of the self in the contemporary world, the politics of state power and local resistance, and perhaps even the eternal battle between good and evil.

Enrollment in HUMS 626 is limited to 15 students.

This course is open to auditors.

Enrollment in HUMS 626W is limited to 3 students.

This course is not open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Wednesday, July 6 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

Charles Baraw (BA University of Vermont; MA Middlebury College; PHD Yale University) is a visiting assistant professor of English. His current book project is Hawthorne and the Travelling Eye: Tourism and Nineteenth-century American Literary Culture, which examines the role of aesthetics in travel, apprehension, narrative structure, and the development of professional authorship in the United States. Click here for more information about Charles Baraw.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 15

Texts to purchase for this course:
Abel, Jessica La Perdida, Pantheon

Barry, Linda, One Hundred Demons, Sasquatch Books

Bechdel, Alison, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Mariner Books

Cruse, Howard, Stuck Rubber Baby, Vertigo

Delisle, Guy, Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, Drawn and Quarterly

Eisner, Will, The Best of the Spirit, DC Comics

Mazzucchelli, David, Asterios Polyp, Pantheon

McCloud, Scott, Understanding Comics, Harper Paperbacks

Moore, Alan, Watchmen, DC Comics

Sacco, Joe, Palestine, Fantagraphics Books

Satrapi, Marjane, The Complete Persepolis, Pantheon

Spiegelman, Art, Maus I, Pantheon

Spiegelman, Art, Maus II, Pantheon

Ware, Chris, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Pantheon

Wright, Richard Black Boy, Harper Perennial Modern Classics

Yang, Belle, Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, W. W. Norton & Company

Reading Materials are available at BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 Broad Street, Middletown, 860-685-7323 Order your books online

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