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Elective: Close-Reading Comics: Hybrid Storytelling in Graphic Memoirs

Vak
2016-2017

Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies who have succesfully completed the second year elective course.
The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

Perhaps because of their very accessibilty comic strips (sometimes called “commix”) and graphic novels have only recently come to be recognized as a serious art form requiring specific reading skills and literary sensibility. Although hybrid forms of word-and-image storytelling have been around since the Bayeux tapestry, and there is a long and global underground tradition of graphic narrative, a pivotal moment in the genre’s road to mainstream recognition has no doubt been the publication of Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1980).
This course approaches a subgenre of comics – graphic memoir – from various vantage points: as a means of narrating trauma and memory, as a form of resistance to dominant culture, as a mode of transcultural communication, and as an underground medium grown up. Spiegelman has described it as “a gutter medium; that is, it’s what takes place in the gutters between the panels that activates the medium.” On one level that characterization attends to how commix must be read, and on another to the place from which they are presumably drawn.
This course sets out to investigate how graphic memoirs can be read, what modes of storytelling and what kinds of stories they promote, and how they negotiate memory, identity, culture and politics. To research this, we will close-read and contextualize graphic memoirs (and some adjacent texts and genres) from a range of geographical, social, and cultural locations. Core texts will include:
• Will Eisner, A Contract with God (1978)
• Art Spiegelman, Maus I & II (1980-1991)
• Craig Thompson, Blankets (2003)
• Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (2006)
• Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese (2006)
• Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (2007)
• David Small, Stitches (2009)
• Guy Delisle, Jerusalem (2011)
• Riad Sattouf, The Arab of the Future (2015)
• Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Panther #1 (2016) & Between the World and Me (2015)
Alongside these texts we will study a set of academic and artistic texts to think through the dynamics of representation, cultural memory, trauma, hybridity and hegemony. Most meetings will take the form of student-led seminars. The aim will be to understand what meanings autobiographical comics can take on and have assumed across times and places.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
After this course students will have a theoretical basis and practical skills in researching the needs and ideoglogies that underlie cultural memories and perceptions, and in researching the cultural trajectories of narratives and objects.
Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.
Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.
Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:
• Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours
• Time for studying the compulsory literature: 120 hours
• Research and preparation for seminar outline and presentation: 66 hours
• Researching and writing final paper: 70 hours

Assessment method

h4, assessment and weighing

  • Seminar outline (5%)
    • Seminar presentation and discussion (30%)
    • Participation and contribution to class discussion (15%)
    • Final paper (50%)
    Active (>80%) attendance and participation is required to be able to complete the course.

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

To pass the course, the weighted average has to be 5.5 at least.

Resit

The seminar presentation cannot be retaken.

In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

  • Will Eisner, A Contract with God (1978)
    • Art Spiegelman, Maus I & II (1980-1991)
    • Craig Thompson, Blankets (2003)
    • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (2006)
    • Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese (2006)
    • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (2007)
    • David Small, Stitches (2009)
    • Guy Delisle, Jerusalem (2011)
    • Riad Sattouf, The Arab of the Future (2015)
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Panther #1 (2016) & Between the World and Me (2015)

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable

Contact

Dr. M. van Gageldonk

Remarks

The deadline for submission of the final essay is 9 June 2017.

The texts on the reading list will have to be purchased (they are all between € 10-20 and easily available) – other reading material will be provided through Blackboard.