This course provides an introduction to the academic discipline of Comics Studies, which focuses on
comics as a form of literary production and asks questions about how and why comics are written and
read. You will be exposed to a variety of comic-art forms (the newspaper strip, the comic book, the
graphic novel) and a spectrum of modes and genres (fiction, non-fiction, kids comics, horror/noir
comics, and so on). You will also be asked to read several examples of contemporary comics
The theme of this course is “Growing Up.” Throughout the term, we will confront head-on comics’
reputation as “kids’ stuff.” Each comics text that we read will represent a stage of childhood and/or
feature a main character(s) struggling with how to grow up. As we read these texts, we will ponder
some big questions about the relationships between comics and growing up: Are comics just for kids?
Are they ever for kids? What can comics bring to the representation of childhood and adolescence
that other media can’t?
We will address this theme in five Units, each about two weeks long. Each Unit will begin with a guiding
question about comics and growing up. We will read 2-3 comics texts in each Unit, and a handful of
theory texts, to help us explore answers to the Unit Question. At the end of each Unit, you’ll complete
a Unit Project that will ask you to develop (in a different way for each Unit) your own answers to the
Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.
Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience. Major II students can also use one lower-division elective to fulfill the Writing Requirement with ENG 209 The Craft of the Sentence.
Comics Studies Minor courses present students with an international, historical, and critical perspective on the art of editorial cartoons, comic books, and graphic novels, and how these forms communicate, inform, and emotionally engage their audiences. Students will be required to think outside of accustomed disciplinary boundaries, and to analyze and experiment with the interaction of both visual and linguistic systems of meaning.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.