The Graphic Novel

Summer 2020 First Session
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
4 8 Credits per quarter
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Over the past 30 years, graphic novels have won numerous readers with their bold topics, innovative forms, and vivid artwork. 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. Far from being "kid stuff," the best comics can be serious works of both literary and visual art. 

In "The Graphic Novel," we will explore the origins, development, and unique workings of these sequential narratives, from evocative wordless novels (e.g., Shaun Tan's immigrant story The Arrival ) to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's influential Watchmen series, to contemporary works such as Ellen Forney's Marbles . 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 . While this is not a studio art class, we will pursue drawing exercises that help us to develop an artist's-eye view of comics. Our overall goal is to develop an informed and critical perspective on this powerful medium.

Students who register for eight credits will read and research additional graphic works and artists or, with faculty approval, make comics of their own. Whether you are new to comics, already a fan, or a committed cartoonist, come and join the fun!

Our work will be conducted remotely, using Canvas and Zoom. The faculty will offer alternative assignments if conditions or illness prevent students from accessing our synchronous meetings, which will allow students to earn comparable credit.


Summer 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

First Session (8): 40026
First Session (4): 40027

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory For

Humanities, literature, visual arts, education

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting