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Academic English: Fictionality, Graphic Novel, and Animated Film


Admission requirements

No specific entry requirements


In the fictionality section, we start by discussing two different approaches to fiction: the semantic approach (by what signposts can we recognise fiction?) and the pragmatic one (fiction-making as play, as communicative action, and as reflection on possible worlds). Topics include various philosophical and semiotic perspectives on fictionality as well as the role of fictionality in different genres and media such as new journalism, the historical novel, autobiography and autofiction, drama, film, games, and pictorial art.
The animation and graphic novel section of the course focuses on historical aspects of both genres (the emergence of animation and newspaper comics in the late 19th century) as well as the specific narrative techniques that have been developed in animation and comics, and the ways in which these genres have appropriated and used styles, techniques and conventions of other media (such as cinema, radio, and painting).

Course objectives


  • To offer students an opportunity to practise their English reading and listening skills at an academic level;

  • To introduce students to different aspects of, and different positions in a central and long-standing debate in narrative theory;

  • To introduce students to different aspects of, and debates in the study of graphic novels and animation;

  • To make students reflect on the use and usefulness of the concepts of fictionality and intermediality within different media.



Mode of instruction



Class attendance: 30 hrs
Reading assignments: 75 hrs
Preparation exam: 30 hrs
Take-home exam: 5 hrs
Total workload: 140 hrs

Assessment method

Take-home exam consisting of short essay questions (100 %). The same format will be adopted for the resit.
N.B.: Access to the resit is limited to those participants who have submitted the first exam


Blackboard will be used for the purpose of uploading reading material, for teacher-student communication via announcements and e-mail, and to elicit responses via the discussion board. Finally, exams must be uploaded via Blackboard Turnitin. for the submission of exams.

Reading list

  • For the fictionality section David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas (2004) will be used as a central point of reference. Secondary literature to be announced.

  • The animation & graphic novel section will discuss a selection of essays, as well as (among others) Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1991) and Marjana Satrapi’s Persepolis (2001-2003).


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272251 or mail

Contact information

For more information do not hesitate to contact the lecturers, dr. Yasco Horsman or dr. Madeleine Kasten


Please note that the learning goals of this course do not include English writing skills. The lectures will be delivered in English, which is likewise the language of all reading material. The exam questions, however, may be answered in Dutch.

For more information please check the website Film- en literatuurwetenschap