The Graphic Novel

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Winter 2018
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

English, writing, literature

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 the socially conscious woodcut novels of the 1930s (e.g., Lynd Ward’s Gods’ Man) to Joe Sacco’s groundbreaking graphic journalism (Palestine) to contemporary women’s memoirs (Fun Home and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?). We will carefully examine each text at multiple levels of composition, from single frames to the story as a whole, and interpret their workings with the help of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. 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.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: humanities, art, and education

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

Scheduled for: Evening

Located in: Olympia

Final schedule and room assignment:


Advertised schedule:

Tu/Th 5:30-9:30p