Spring 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Brown, Matt
Discipline and Number
HUHI 6327 Section 001
M Time 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title
Comics Studies

Description of Course:

The language of comics and the medium of the comic book raise a variety of philosophical questions. How do we define "comics" and "comic books"? Can pop culture works count as art? Are they a form of literature? Or are they some sui generis form of expression, reducible neither to visual art nor to literature. What gives art and literature their cultural legitimacy, which comics are generally thought to lack. Does the visual language of comics have a grammar? Can comics be an effective form of journalism, political critique, or history? Can works of literature or scientific knowledge be effectively translated into comics?

We will adress these questions philosophically, historically, and by way of an introduction to the interdisciplinary, academic study of comics and comic books. We will read a selection of primary texts from several genres (including classic superhero, deconstructed superhero, indie/underground comix, autobiographical, journalistic, etc.). Each week will be accompanied by different scholarly approaches to the study of comics, including historical, philosophical, literary, visual, and communication analyses.

Required Texts:


Required Texts: Theory

* McCloud, Understanding Comics
* Duncan and Smith, The Power of Comics: History, Form, & Culture
* Heer and Worcester, A Comics Studies Reader
* Duncan and Smith, Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods

Required Texts: Comics

* Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941
* All Star Superman vol. 1 & 2
* Watchmen
* Maus
* Ghost World
* Fun Home
* Safe Area GoraĹžde
* Wonder Woman Chronicles v. 1 or Archives v. 1 and/or 2 [pick 1]
* Ottaviani, Suspended in Language
* Scott Pilgrim vol. 1 & 2
* Porcellino, Thoreau at Walden
* Akira vol. 1
* Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth

Suggested Texts
[You are encouraged to buy at least one of these for help with your research paper]

* Heer and Worcester, Arguing Comics
* Wolk, Reading Comics
* Jeff McLaughlin, Comics as Philosophy
* Magnussen, Anne and Hans-Christian Christiansen, eds. Comics & Culture: Analytical and Theoretical Approaches to Comics
* Wright, Comic Book Nation
* McCloud, Reinventing Comics

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

3000 word research paper, + TBD

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