English 154 - Spring, 2018

The Graphic Novel

Class Information

Instructor: Milburn, Colin
CRN: 81972
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 106 Olson


    This class covers the history of the graphic novel, or the book-length comics narrative, focusing on some of the most important English-language examples. We will trace the emergence of the graphic novel within the larger media ecology of comics, cartoons, and popular fiction, studying how literary form is shaped by market forces as much as artistic ambitions. Focusing on major figures--including Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Will Eisner, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Neil Gaiman--as well as the cartooning traditions and narrative genres that provide context for their work, this course will look at a range of topics: the comics industry, fan communities, cartoon autobiographies, animal fables and funny books, horror comics, science fiction, and superheroes. We will also learn key critical approaches to the study of comics, addressing the medium-specificity of what Spiegelman famously calls the "co-mix": the mixing of words and pictures to tell a story.


    Midterm (20%), final exam (30%), 2 essays (50%)


    Art Spiegelman, Maus
    Will Eisner, A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories
    Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
    Daniel Clowes, Ghostworld
    Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen
    Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, We3
    G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel: No Normal
    Charles Burns, Black Hole
    Neil Gaiman, et al., The Sandman
    Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
    Bradford Wright, Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America