The growing acceptance of comics and graphic novels as “serious” literature owes much to the genre’s embrace as a powerful vehicle for memory, especially by minority writers seeking to showcase “non-normative” accounts of American life: the experiences of being gay, non-white, foreign, non-Christian, etc. This course offers an in-depth examination of one particular group – Asian Americans – which has gained especial prominence in the comics world in recent years. Artists like Gene Yang, Thi Bui, GB Tran and Adrian Tomine have begun to demonstrate how the combination of image and text can capture the unique position of Asian Americans as both racially hyper-visible and socially invisible. How do these texts define what it means to be Asian in America, and what counts as an “Asian American” work? How do they visually represent the experience of being seen as a “model minority,” or of being racially discriminated against? How, ultimately, do these texts change what we think – or what we think we know – about comics?
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Theory/Rhetoric courses teach media theory, the major modes and schools of criticism and theory, and theories and techniques of reasoning, rational discourse, and argumentation.
Media, Folklore, and/or Culture courses focus on print and non-print media to explore culture and its processes of creative expression.
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.