Read Graphic Novel Course Syllabus, Spring 2010 text version

Spring 2010

Graphic Novels and Graphic Cultures

ARHU106: Practical Application in the Arts The Honors Humanities Program at the University of Maryland Second Semester Colloquium (1 credit) Thursdays, 4-4:50 p.m., Room 0103 Queen Anne's Hall Patrick R. Grzanka, Ph.D. Associate Director, Honors Humanities 1103 Wicomico Hall 301.405.6992 [email protected] Office hours by appointment (Tues & Thurs)

The eyes have been used to signify a perverse capacity -honed to perfection in the history of science tied to militarism, capitalism, colonialism and male supremacy -- to distance the knowing subject from everybody and everything in the interest of unfettered power. -Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledges" (1988)

Seminar Description This course serves as an introduction to critical methods in popular culture studies, with a focus on the graphic novel as cultural product and practice. Together, we will explore the ways in which meanings emerge in several celebrated texts of the graphic novel genre, as well as some emerging classics. Our readings of these texts will be informed by a diversity of theoretical perspectives, including visual culture studies, postmodernism and intersectionality. We will interrogate the relationships between the concepts "graphic novel" or "comic book" and "popular culture," with each of us bringing our lived experiences to our readings and discussions. In the context of contemporary U.S. society, we will see how critical studies of popular culture have a distinct place in the arts and humanities. We will consider the contradictory ways in which difference, power and knowledge are articulated in cultural production. Through in-depth studies of several primary texts, including Watchmen, Maus, Fun Home, and V for Vendetta, we will learn how graphic storytellers use and manipulate historical and contemporary social issues as the building blocks for their art. Finally, we will apply these skills to create our own application of the art of graphic storytelling. Learning Goals By the end of this course, students should be able to: 1. Conceptualize graphic storytelling as a cultural and artistic process that is productive of (often) complex meanings within the "circuit of culture." 2. Recognize social, metaphorical, and philosophical meanings/themes in graphic novels and be able to critically analyze these pieces as "texts." 3. Produce a piece of graphic storytelling that deals with one or more contemporary social issues. General Course Expectations Despite the one-credit aspect of this course, it should be understood that ARHU106 is an Honors course and a critical component of the Honors Humanities curriculum. The reading load may be considered heavy at times, though this course strictly follows the University standard of three hours of out-of-class work per credit hour. Commitment to fulfilling the requirements of the course is essential to success in the class and will be reflected in students' final grades. It should also be noted that many Graphic Novels and Graphic Cultures - Spring 2010 1

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of the ideas presented in this course will be built upon in ARHU205: Modes of Knowing and Doing in the Arts and Humanities. Though graphic novels will serve as primary texts, no previous knowledge of any of these books is required (or even preferred). Every student, regardless of her familiarity with these books or the graphic novel genre in general, will have an equal opportunity to succeed in the course. Patrick Grzanka will be your primary instructor for this course, though your Honors Humanities Keystone Project progress will be evaluated by your Keystone Project advisor (Peter Mallios, Patrick Grzanka, Sarah Kimmet, Rebecca Peters or Sibbie O'Sullivan). Information about Keystone advisors will be distributed at the beginning of the semester, and it is each student's responsibility to meet with her advisor outside of class. Evaluation Grading for the course is as follows: 20%: Class participation. While attendance is not "mandatory," thoughtful participation in class is a crucial part of succeeding in the course. The instructor will lead discussions, but it is each student's responsibility to actively participate in class. Because summaries of the readings are not required every week, in-class participation is the main way for the instructor to know whether a student is doing the required reading. In-class participation is not limited to speaking in class -- short, written quizzes on the assigned material will be given throughout the semester (always either emailed in advance of the section meeting or made available on Blackboard). 5%: Assignments. All written assignments, not including your analytic essay and final project, are due in hard copy form at the start of class for which they are due. Late assignments will not be accepted. 20%: Analytic essay. During the semester, you will develop a 4-7 page essay analyzing at least one graphic novel using the analytical tools and frameworks we learn in class. This essay will be due toward the end of the semester, but you will work on it throughout the course. This is your only major writing assignment. 35%: Final project. This course is about practical applications in the arts. Thus, the practical application ­ development of a piece of graphic storytelling ­ is the most important part of this course. Students may work individually or in groups (of up to 4 people) for the final project. More details will be provided during the first half of the course. 20%: Annotated bibliography for the Honors Humanities Keystone Project. All HonHum students are required to maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of their Keystone Project throughout Evaluation Summary ARHU106. By the end of the semester, students will have expanded and annotated 20% Participation their bibliography to 20 sources. 5% Assignments The grading will be on a traditional scale of 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, etc. Plusses and minuses will be awarded when appropriate. 20% Analytic Essay 35% Final Project 20% Keystone Bibliography

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Required Texts Moore, A., & Gibbons, D. (1995/1986-7). Watchmen. DC Comics. Moore, A., & Lloyd, D. (1995/1981). V for Vendetta. Reissue edition. Vertigo. Bechdel, A. (2006). Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Houghton Mifflin Vaughn, B. K., & Henrichon, N. (2006). Pride of Baghdad. DC Comics: Vertigo. ***These books can be purchased from Big Planet Comics, 7315 Baltimore Ave (Rt. 1) in College Park opposite the CVS shopping center. We encourage you to patronize this local establishment. Phone: 301.699.0498*** Course readings, available via Blackboard (www.elms.umd.edu) or provided in photocopy format. To view electronic versions of any graphic novels we read in class, you must download a free, digital comic book viewer, such as Comical. More information will be provided during class time. Recommended Overview Texts Duncan, R., & Smith, M. J. (2009). The power of comics: History, form and culture. New York: Continuum. Lopes, P. (2009). Demanding respect: The evolution of the American comic book. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Keystone Project Annotated Bibliography Students are required to maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of their Keystone project during the spring semester in ARHU106. This semester, you will read the sources you identified in your bibliography during the fall semester, you will expand your bibliography from 5-10 to at least 20 sources, and you will annotate all of your sources in MLA style (Chicago style is also acceptable; other research/documentation styles, such as APA, must be approved). Guidelines for annotation are available on Blackboard. To access your Blackboard space, go to http://www.elms.umd.edu. Analytic Essay For your analytic essay, you may write on any of the graphic novels we read in the course, or you may select from other substantive texts. Below is a list of suggested sources: Uncanny X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Marvel Comics. Astonishing X-Men: "Gifted," "Dangerous," "Torn" or "Unstoppable," by Joss Whedon. Marvel Comics. In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman. New York: Pantheon. Maus, Book 2, by Art Spiegelman. New York: Pantheon. Perspepolis: The Story of a Childhood or The Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi. New York: Pantheon. Death: The High Cost of Living, by Neil Gaiman and Chris Bachalo. DC Comics: Vertigo. Death: The Time of Your Life, by Neil Gaiman and Chris Bachalo. DC Comics: Vertigo. Graphic Novels and Graphic Cultures - Spring 2010 3

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Michael Turner's Fathom, Vol. 1, by Michael Turner. Image Comics: Top Cow Productions. 300, by Frank Miller. Dark Horse Comics. Ghost World, by Daniel Clowes. Fantagraphic Books (4th Ed. 2001). Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller. DC Comics. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, by Frank Miller. DC Comics. Rising Stars, by J. Michael Straczynski, Image Comics: Top Cow Productions. Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughn. DC Comics: Vertigo. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. DC Comics: America's Best Comics. Lucifer, by Mike Carey. DC Comics: Vertigo. Dykes to Watch Out For (1986) and Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For (2005), by Allison Bechdel. The Sandman (1989) by Neil Gaiman with pencillers Kelly Jones, Charles Vess and Colleen Doran. DC Comics: Vertigo. American Way (2006), by John Ridley with penciller Georges Jeanty. Wildstorm. Blankets (2003), written and drawn by Craig Thompson. Top Shelf. Akira (2000), written and drawn by Katsuhiro Otomo. Dark Horse 2000. [Note: this is arguably the best English version, and certainly the easiest one to get a hold of.] Love and Rockets (2007), written and drawn by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez. Fantagraphics. Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm (2007), written by Percy Carey with penciller Ronald Wimberly. Vertigo. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (1982), written by Chris Claremont with penciller Brent Anderson. Marvel. Planetary (2000), written by Warren Ellis with penciller John Cassaday. Wildstorm. The Swamp Thing. Any of Moore's collected Volumes 1-9. Written by Alan Moore, art by various. Vertigo 1984. Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography (2006), written by Andrew Helfer with penciller Randy DuBurke. Hill and Wang. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (2009), written by Mat Johnson with penciler Warren Pleece. DC Comics: Vertigo. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (2009), by Josh Neufeld. Pantheon. In addition to these texts or one of your choosing, you may want to write an essay that compares an original graphic novel to its cinematic adaptation (e.g. Persepolis, 300, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Though such an essay might be daunting (especially if your goal is not simply to highlight what is "different" about the film), we will be discussing adaptation in class. Final Project - An Original Piece of Graphic Storytelling For the course's final project, students may work individually or in groups of up to four members to create a piece of original graphic storytelling. This may take the form of an issue of a series, an outline of a story with character sketches, a complete storyboard with script, a series outline, or an outline of a complete graphic novel. This may be a completely original story, or use characters already existing in a

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graphic universe/series/continuity. The plot of the outline must deal with one or more contemporary social issues (loosely construed). The extensiveness of the project will depend on the format chosen by the student and group size. For example, if working alone, the student will be expected to demonstrate that they have developed both a plot and some graphic storytelling for at least one issue (20 pages or so, depending on what visual medium is being used). If four students work together, they must submit a more thorough outline of a complete issue or series with a substantial graphic component. I am extremely flexible with the form this final project takes, and I encourage all students to be creative and draw from their strengths (e.g. if visual art isn't your forte, then team up with someone who might be stronger in this area). More details about the final project will be provided later in the course. Extra Credit From January 25-April 9, 2010, the Stamp Gallery will present an exciting new exhibition with works from three very talented emerging Asian American artists. The exhibition, Disidentifications, explores how artists react or respond to the complex and intricate reality of cultural and physical identification, whether they embrace duality or hybridity, search for meaning in their cultural background, or even reject any notion of static or quantifiable identity. The exhibition is named for the book, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, by José Esteban Muñoz, in which Muñoz looks at how groups with identities outside of normative or expected categories negotiate and transform mainstream culture. Students who wish to pursue extra credit may visit the exhibit and write a 3-page review that describes the form, content and overall aesthetic value of the exhibit, as well as relates the exhibit content to specific ARHU106 course texts. Students must submit this assignment by the last day of class (May 6) and may earn up to 10 extra points on their final graphic storytelling project. More information about the exhibit is available at http://www.union.umd.edu/gallery/ index.shtml Documented Disabilities Students who have documented disabilities and who wish to discuss academic accommodations within this course should contact the instructor as soon as possible after the beginning of the course. Incompletes In this course, the mark of "I" will be granted only to a student who meets both of the following criteria: (1) the student has satisfactorily completed a major portion of the work of the course and (2) the student has been unable to complete some small portion of the work of the course because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control. Examples of reasons for the inability to complete course work that will not qualify a student for an "I" mark include the following: employment or volunteer commitments, social responsibilities, travel plans, and unexpected difficulties in satisfying course requirements. Academic Integrity The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit http://www.studenthonorcouncil.umd.edu/whatis.html

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January 28 Seminar Introduction Image Matters...

Visual culture studies as a paradigm, the place of the visual in the arts and humanities, introduction to the course.

All assignments and course readings will be due on the week they are listed unless otherwise noted.

February 4 Representation and the Circuit of Culture Grounding the theory (part 1 of 2)

What is representation? Using readings by Stuart Hall, Nicholas Mirzoeff and Roland Barthes, we will discuss how representations work in popular culture.

Assignment Readings

What is your favorite graphic novel/comic book and why? If you've never read one, say more about that... Hall, S. (1997). Introduction. In S. Hall (Ed.), Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices (p. 1-13). London: Sage Publications & Open University. BB Mirzoeff, N. (1998). What is visual culture? In N. Mirzoeff (Ed.), The Visual Culture Reader (selected pages). New York: Routledge. BB Barthes, R. (1998). Rhetoric of the image. In N. Mirzoeff (Ed.), The Visual Culture Reader (p. 70-73). New York: Routledge. BB

Key "BB" indicates that the reading is available on Blackboard (www.elms.umd.edu)

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February 11Graphic Novels and/at/are the Margins Grounding the theory (part 2 of 2)

What is a graphic novel? Where are graphic novels situated (in popular culture, in critical media studies)? What does it mean to claim that graphic novels are both marginalized genre and marginalized subject? How do they work?

Assignment Readings

Bring a magazine advertisement to class. Lopes, P. (2006). Culture and stigma: Popular culture and the case of comic books. Sociological Forum, 21, 387-414. BB Selections from Eisner's Graphic Storytelling and Comics and Sequential Art BB

That life is complicated may seem a banal expression of the obvious, but it is nonetheless a profound theoretical statement -- perhaps the most important theoretical statement of our time. -Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters (1997)

February 18

History, Biography, Memoir Maus, Book 1

Discussion of Spiegelman's Maus

Readings Spiegelman, A. Maus: Book 1 - My Father Bleeds History. New York: Pantheon. BB or at Liberty Books and Comics on Rt 1. See "Required Texts" for more information. Wolk, D. (2007). What comics are and what they aren't. In Reading comics: How graphic novels work and what they mean (pp. 3-28). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. BB

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February 25 Future History DMZ

Discussion of Wood and Burchielli's DMZ

Readings

Wood, B. & Burchielli, R. (2007). DMZ. DC Comics: Vertigo. Issues 12; 18-22. BB

March 4

Re-envisioning the Superhero Watchmen (Part 1)

Discussion of the first half of Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen. How is the "superhero" archetype refigured in this dystopic American culture?

Readings

First six issues of Moore's Watchmen Selections from Eisner's Graphic Storytelling/ Comics and Sequential Art BB

March 11

Postmodern Visions Watchmen (Part 2)

Discussion of the second half of Watchmen through the lens of postmodernism. How does postmodernism function as critique? How is Watchmen representative of postmodern storytelling?

Readings

Issues 7-12 of Watchmen Wolk, D. (2007). Alan Moore: The house of the magus. In Reading comics: How graphic novels work and what they mean (pp. 228-257). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. BB

March 18

Spring Break

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March 25

Brave New Worlds V for Vendetta (Part 1)

The cultural politics of V for Vendetta are at once fascinating and horrifying. How are we implicated in this interpretation of Britain's future? How do we as readers differentially relate to V and Evey?

Assignment Readings

Analytic essay proposal (<1 page) First five annotated sources for Keystone bibliography First half of Moore and Lloyd's V for Vendetta

April 1

Adaptation V for Vendetta (Part 2)

From the page to screen, what are the challenges and issues endemic to the process of adaptation? How is graphic novel adaptation distinct from the adaptation of traditional (i.e. non-visual) novels?

Readings and viewings Second half of Moore and Lloyd's V for Vendetta V for Vendetta (2006). Starring Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman. Directed by James McTeigue. Written by the Wachowski Brothers.

April 8

A "Different" World Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Part 1)

What's real about Bechdel's realisim? How do both her style and topic challenge normative literature and social structures? What kinds of differences are represented here? How does Otherness inform our consumption of Bechdel's work?

Readings

First half of Bechdel's Fun Home Buckley, S. (1998). `Penguin in bondage': A graphic tale of Japanese comic books. In N. Mirzoeff (Ed.) Visual culture reader. New York: Routledge. BB

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April 15

Queer Gazes Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Part 2)

What are situated knowledges, and what do they have to do with feminism? How can vision become a productive metaphor for approaching truth and objectivity? Once we challenge truth, how do we see Bechdel's narrative differently?

Assignment Readings

Final project proposals due in class. Second half of Fun Home Haraway, D. (1998). The persistence of vision. In N. Mirzoeff (Ed.) Visual culture reader. New York: Routledge. BB Wolk, D. (2007). Alison Bechdel: Reframing memory. In Reading comics: How graphic novels work and what they mean (pp. 359-364). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. BB

April 22

Representing War Pride of Baghdad

Vaughn and Henrichon tell the true story of unsuspected causalities of the United States' invasion of and war in Iraq. In the process, they paint a harrowing picture of the tragedy of war - almost completely without human beings. What are the politics of such a representational move, and is Pride effective as a political text?

Readings

Vaughn, B. K., & Henrichon, N. (2006). Pride of Baghdad. DC Comics: Vertigo.

April 29

Presentations Final Projects Presentations

Final project presentations due in class, including presentation of works-inprogress; discussion of analytic essay topics.

Assignment

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May 6

Conclusions Image Matters?

Analytic Essay due May 17 by 5 p.m. submitted to Honors Humanities office, 1103 Wicomico Hall Final Project due May 19 by 5 p.m. submitted to Honors Humanities office, 1103 Wicomico Hall Keystone Annotated Bibliography due May 19 by 5 p.m. submitted to Honors Humanities office, 1103 Wicomico Hall

Exam Week

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Graphic Novel Course Syllabus, Spring 2010

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Graphic Novel Course Syllabus, Spring 2010