Introduction to Graphic Novels
Time: 19:45 - 21:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HLT279
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
What is the course about?
In this online literature course, we will explore these debates and trace how graphic novels, or ‘narratives of
sequential art’, have developed into a literary and cultural form over the latter half of the twentieth century and into
the current day. We will begin with the graphic novel’s literary and visual antecedents in the Japanese Manga and the Franco-Belgian bande desinée traditions. We will then read Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel’s influential and genre-shaping graphic memoirs and probe how the popularity of these memoirs resulted in a boom in graphic novel writing, publishing and academic attention towards comics. We will then delve into questions of adaptation by engaging with Peter Kuper’s reworking of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Simon Grenann’s rewriting of Anthony Trollope’s 1879 novel John Caldigate in 2015’s Dispossession: A Novel of Few Words. We conclude by discussing Drnaso’s Man Booker Prize nominated graphic novel Sabrina and sum up on the literary and visual possibilities offered by the graphic novel medium.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
Each week, we will discuss topics that emerge from our key texts. These topics typically include issues such as
conventions of narrative drawing, subgenres in the graphic novel, critical models for reading graphic novels and
literary critical themes such as gender, sexuality, race, class and identity.
Origins of the Graphic Novel:
Japanese Manga – I will be sending out some extracts from Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis (1949) and Hergé, Tintin in Tibet (1958) in PDF format
‘Autographics’: From Comics to ‘The Graphic Novel/Memoir’ I
Art Spiegelman, Maus I and II (1980-1991)
‘Autographics’: From Comics to ‘The Graphic Novel/Memoir’ II
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis I and II (2000-2004)
‘Autographics’: From Comics to ‘The Graphic Novel/Memoir’ III
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006)
Adaptation and the Graphic Novel
Peter Kuper, Heart of Darkness (2019)
Simon Grennann, Dispossession: A Novel of Few Words (2015)
The Contemporary Graphic Novel
Nick Drnaso, Sabrina (2018).
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Have a critical, analytical understanding about the evolution of the graphic novel as a genre that draws on
traditions in literature and the visual arts
- Be able to evaluate and analyse graphic novels using methods of literary criticism and sequential art criticism
- Have a developed understanding of established conventions in different subgenres of the graphic novel.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Studying literature or visual arts before is not a pre-requisite and all levels are welcome.
Some of the topics addressed may be sensitive and so a willingness to engage with the readings and listen
respectfully to the views of fellow students will be essential.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each class will feature a short power point presentation, followed by large and small group work and discussion.
Work outside class is generally doing the readings set each week before each session.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will be required to acquire a copy of each text either by buying it or obtaining it from a library. The texts we will
- Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus (Penguin, 2003)
- Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return (Vintage, 2008)
- Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Jonathan Cape, 2006)
- Simon Grennan, Dispossession: A Novel of Few Words (Jonathan Cape, 2015)
- Peter Kuper, Heart of Darkness (W.W. Norton and Company, 2019)
- Nick Drnaso, Sabrina (Granta Books, 2018).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other literature courses on our website at www.citylit.ac.uk/courses under history, culture and writing/literature/fiction.
Peter Cherry has taught literature at undergraduate level at the University of Edinburgh and at postgraduate level at Bilkent University in Turkey, where he worked as Assistant Professor in World Literature between 2018-2021, offering courses on migration, gender and sexuality in modern fiction, literature and cinema, travel writing and the graphic novel. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Edinburgh and is the author of the forthcoming book Muslim Masculinities: Transcultural Identity and Migration in Britain (IB Tauris/Bloomsbury, 2021). He has also written a chapter for the volume Turkish Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury, 2021) and has written articles on different aspects of gender, sexuality, travel and migration in literature and cinema.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.