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Reinventing the novel: literature, comics, serials


Admission requirements

Not applicable


This course studies a series of classic theoretical texts on the novel (Watt, Lukacs, Genette, Auerbach, Bakhtin) in order to raise the question what is (still) novelistic about books that have been called anti-novels (Joyce, Sarraute), new novels (Robbe-Grillet), archive novels (Perec), database novels (Bolano) and graphic novels (Spiegelman, Ware, Bechdel, Satrapi).

The course consists of four parts. In part one we will read a series of classical studies on the rise of the novel (from formalistic, narratological, cultural-historical and marxist perspectives). Part two focuses ‘anti,’ ‘new’ and ‘database’ novels. Part three studies the so-called ‘graphic novel.’ In part four we will discuss the emergence of ‘narrative complexity’ in TV serials (and in particular on the serials that are praised as ‘novelistic’ in their ambition, such as The Wire or House of Cards.)

Course objectives

Students will:

  • Gain an overview of the historical, formalistic and theoretical debates about the rise of the novel;

  • Have an understanding of debates about narrative complexity in popular culture;

  • Have an understanding of the graphic novel;

  • Learn how to interpret and read complex literary texts, TV series and comics;

  • Learn to critically ‘test’ the value of various theoretical texts by bringing them to bear on new forms of writing.


Check for schedules of courses and exams Media Studies Roosters

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Two papers (50% each)

The final grade is the weighted average of the writing assignments. In order to pass the course the weighter avarage should be sufficient.


The total workload for this course is 280 hours, to be distributed as follows: – Course attendance 13 × 2 hours a week = 26 – Course preparation, ca. 160 – Preparation papers (midterm paper, final paper) ca. 94


Blackboard is used to inform students and to post assignments, texts, visual material.

Reading list

Will be published on Blackboard


Students have to apply for this course with the registration system of the university uSis. General information about registration with uSis you can find here in Dutch and in English

Contact / information

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 1.02b.