ENG385 202102 Undergraduate

Winter 2022
ENG 385
Applies To: 
Course Description: 

Survey of 20th- and 21st- century graphic novels in the context of cultural theory. Sophomore standing required. Offered alternate years.

Graphic Narratives and Cultural Theory

Kate Kelp-Stebbins

Kate Kelp-Stebbins profile picture
  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-3988
  • Office: 333 PLC
  • Office Hours: Summer term 7/18-8/14: M 2-5 via Zoom
  • Website: Website
Department Section Description: 

Comics and graphic narratives are uniquely suited to exploring cultural location because they transform the storytelling unit of the page into a space of representation. The comics page graphically negotiates dynamics of home and away, self and other, as well as race and culture. In this course, we will read a number of graphic narratives--such as Fun Home, The Arab of the Future, and The Best We Could Do--and theoretical texts that provide a framework for considering comics in terms of location. Recent attention to comics as a global or transnational medium invites analysis of how comics shape our understanding of “home” and its attendant positions of “out,” “in transit,” “im/migrant,” “lost,” “exiled,” or “displaced.” What are the borders of “home” as represented in comics and graphic narratives? Which characters and subjects have the privilege of feeling at home in the comics page? How do comics frame the world as it is encountered “away” from home?


A & L

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.

English Minor

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.

Comics Studies Minor

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.