ENG607 202001 Graduate

Fall 2020
ENG 607
Applies To: 
Seminar: Nonfiction Comics

Kate Kelp-Stebbins

Kate Kelp-Stebbins profile picture
  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-3988
  • Office: 333 PLC
  • Office Hours: S20 - TUES 11-2 via Canvas Chat; or Zoom
  • Website: Website
Department Section Description: 

In a letter demanding that his Holocaust account Maus II be moved from the New York Times “fiction” list, Art Spiegelman allowed that the book created a “problem of taxonomy” through its visuals of animal-headed characters in a historical narrative. In the spirit of comics’ “problem of taxonomy,” this course will explore a number of primary texts including graphic memoirs, comics journalism, and other genres to consider how graphic narratives intervene in the dialectical structures of art and representation--e.g. subject and object, true and false, analog and digital--delimiting “nonfiction.” How do comics, with their material correlation to the eye and hand of the artist(s), challenge conventions of “objective truth” as well as the ethics of witnessing and what Hillary Chute terms “the risk of representation”? As we will theorize through secondary texts ranging from Judith Butler on “grievability” to Elisabeth El Refaie on “the referential pact” and “embodied selves,” the conventions of truth are themselves fundamentally contingent, categorized by genre, aesthetics, and differential negotiations of the real. By considering how graphic narratives render history, memoir, journalism, and autobiography otherwise, we will develop a theoretical framework for negotiating the limits of nonfiction in image/texts.