Honors | Visual Culture and the Graphic Novel (HON)
H203 | 28639 | Dana Anderson


MW 1:00-2:15pm
TE F256

The graphic novel has emerged as one of the most original,
critiqued, and popular literary genres of the past twenty years. The
goal of this course will be to read, discuss, and write about a
range of difference examples of this emergent literary genre to
explore how—and why—our increasingly visual culture has embraced
this visual narrative form.

Understanding the graphic novel as a literary genre means thinking
about some key questions of textual and visual representation.  What
does it mean to live in a visual culture, and what are the
interpretive skills necessary to function within it? How do graphic
novels require a certain kind of visual literacy in order to
communicate their fictional and non-fictional narratives? How is
representation that combines the textual and the visual different
than either form of representation alone? These questions will be
central to our exploration, for they are shaping our very
understanding of what it means to read, to interpret, and to be
literate in contemporary culture.

Our texts for the semester will very likely include the following
(and perhaps a few others):

•Daniel Clowes, Ghost World	
•Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde
•J.P. Stassen, Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda
•Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
•Adrian Tomine, Summer Blonde
•Chris Thompson, Blankets
•Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

Assignments will include four shorter (two-page) response papers to
prompts I’ll provide, two longer (5-6 page) interpretive papers
about our texts, a short in-class group presentation, and most
likely a final exam on concepts we’ll be discussing that give us a
more informed perspective on how visual narratives function.
Successful completion of the course, then, will provide us with a
more articulate sense of the specifically visual dimensions of
reading and interpreting that our culture assumes, and we’ll get to
read and talk about some great books to boot.