The Graphic Novel

Winter 2018 quarter

Taught by

Steve Blakeslee
English, writing, literature
  • UG

In recent years, graphic novels have become recognized as an important form of storytelling, shaping contemporary culture even as they are shaped by it. These book-length, comic-art narratives and compilations employ a complex and iconic visual language. Combining and expanding on elements associated with literature, 2-D visual art, and cinema, the comics medium offers unique opportunities for reader immersion, emotional involvement, and even imaginative co-creation.

In this program, we will study sequential narratives that represent diverse periods, perspectives, styles, and subject matter—from groundbreaking works of the 1980s ( Watchmen and Maus ) to women’s memoirs ( Fun Home and One Hundred Demons ) to the radical evocations of time and space in Richard McGuire’s Here . We will carefully examine each text at multiple levels of composition, from single frames to the work as a whole, and read selected theory, criticism, and commentary, including Scott McCloud’s seminal Understanding Comics and Matt Madden’s ingenious 99 Ways to Tell a Story . As writers, students will develop and articulate their new understandings by means of response papers, visual analyses, bibliographic summaries, and other activities as assigned.

Our studies will conclude with final projects focused on particular artists, works, and themes, or on the creation of original graphic narratives. Finally, while this is not a studio art course, we will experiment with drawing throughout the program as a way to develop an artist’s-eye view of comic art. Our overall goal is to develop an informed and critical perspective on this powerful medium.

Program Details

Fields of Study

literature visual arts writing


Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Tu/Th 5:30-9:30p

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online