The Graphic Novel

Summer 2021 First Session
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 13
4 8 Credits per quarter
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Over the past several decades, 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 pictorial narratives (e.g., Lynd Ward's Gods' Man: A Novel in Woodcuts) to journalistic accounts like Joe Sacco's Palestine, to contemporary fictional works such as Linda Medley's medieval-themed Castle Waiting. 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.

To participate successfully in this program, students will need a consistent high-speed internet connection and a reliable laptop computer or tablet. Expect 6 to 7 hours of Zoom contact time per week; we will also make use of Canvas in conducting the program. The faculty will offer alternative assignments, as appropriate, if conditions prevent students from attending some of our online meetings.

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!


Summer 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

First Session (8): 40055
First Session (4): 40056

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