English 695-01: The Graphic Narrative

Fall 2013

Professor: Dr. Robert Lynch

Office: Grainger G08

Contact: 395-2167, lynchrl@longwood.edu

Office Hours: MW 11:11:50, TR 8:30-9:20

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is a graduate seminar exploring the history, the major artists, works, themes, conventions, and techniques of Comics, Graphic Novels and Graphic Narratives.


·         Burns, Charles.  Black Hole.  Pantheon (2005).  ISBN 9780375714726

·         Gaiman, Neil.  Sandman: Preludes and Nocturne.  Vertigo  ISBN 978-1401225759

·         Kirkman, Robert.  The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye, ISBN 978-1582406725

·         Kirkman, Robert.  The Walking Dead, Vol. 2 : Miles Behind Us. Image Comics  ISBN 978-1582407753

·         McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.  William Morrow  (1993) ISBN978-0060976255

·         Miller, Frank.  Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  DC Comics. (1986) ISBN 978-1563893421

·         Miller, Frank.  Sin City: The Hard Goodbye .  Dark Horse (2005).  ISBN 978-1593072933

·         Moore, Alan and David Gibbons.  Watchmen.  DC Comics (1986). ISBN 978-0930289232

·         Spiegelmann, Art.  The Complete Maus Pantheon (1986). ISBN 978-0679406419

·         Satrapi, Marjane.  The Complete Persepolis.  Pantheon (2000-2003) ISBN 9780375714832

·         Vaughan, Brian K.  Y: The Last Man.  The Deluxe Edition, Book One. Vertigo (2003) ISBN  9781401219215

·         Willingham, Bill.  Fables: Book One.  Vertigo ISBN  ISBN 978-1401224271

·         Yang, Gene Luen.  American Born Chinese. Square Fish (MacMillan) (2006) ISBN 9780312384487


Upon completion of this course the student should be able to:

1.    Display a familiarity with the history and development of comic books, graphic novels, and their subgenres

2.    Display a familiarity with the major authors in the graphic arts

3.    Distinguish the characteristics of the genre, in terms of conventions, themes, and techniques

4.    Analyze the Graphic Novel as a unique form of literature, which synthesizes words and visual narrative,

5.    Demonstrate how historical, intellectual, sexual, racial and cultural factors have influenced the development of the Graphic Novel.

6.    Synthesize and integrate research (literary criticism, genre studies, etc.) in response to Graphic texts.

7.    Incorporate literary theory into discussion and written responses.

8.    Participate in a shared community of scholars (readers and writers) within and outside of class.

READING SCHEDULE: (Tentative and Subject to Change)

August 26: Week One  Course Intro—Graphic Novels as Literature?


Sept. 9: Week Two Autobiographical Graphic Narratives

Yang, Gene Luen.  American Born Chinese  (2006)

McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993), Chapters 1-3

Sept. 16: Week Three

Spiegelmann, Art.  The Complete Maus (1986)

McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993) , Chapters 4-6

Sept. 23: Week Four

Satrapi, Marjane.  The Complete Persepolis (2000-2003)

McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993) , Chapters 7-9

Sept. 30: Week Five:  Adolescence in Graphic Fiction

Burns, Charles.  Black Hole (2005)

Oct. 7: Week Six: Superhero Graphic Narratives

Miller, Frank.  Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986)

Oct. 14: Fall Break

Oct. 21: Week Seven: Myths, Legends, Fairy Tales

                Willingham, Bill.  Fables: Book One (2009)

Oct: 28: Week Eight: Week Seven Political Graphic Narratives

Discussion of Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers and Robert Crumb’s America

Moore, Alan. And David Gibbons.  Watchmen (1986)

Nov. 04: Week Nine:  Politics and Gender

Vaughan, Brian K.  Y: The Last Man.  The Deluxe Edition, Book One (2003)

Nov. 11: Week Ten: Crime/Noir Graphic Narrative

Miller, Frank.  Sin City: The Hard Goodbye  (2005)

Nov. 18: Week Eleven: Horror and Supernatural Graphic Fiction

Gaiman, Neil.  Sandman: Preludes and Nocturne

Nov. 25: Week Twelve: Horror--Zombies

Kirkman, Robert.  The Walking Dead.  Book One (2006)

Dec. 02: Week Thirteen: Student Presentations


Research Prospectus (Due no later than Sept. 15)--100 pts
Ten short response papers (2 Pages)--200 pts (20 pts. each)
Graduate Seminar Paper (10-15 pages)--400 points
Full participation in a learning community of scholars*--200 points
Oral Presentation--100 points


Additional Outside Resource—Our discussions should be wide ranging, involving not just each week’s graphic novel, but outside reading involving other works, topics, writers, resources, etc.  that students bring to the table each week.



Scale:*A=90-100% *B=80-89% *C=70-79% *D=60-69% 


The attendance policy for this course is the same as the university policy in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook.



Students are expected to live by the Longwood University Honor Code. All work done for the class must be pledged. Your instructor will not tolerate any form of cheating. You are expected to know what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. All ideas taken from sources, whether in texts or online, must be cited. Remember that your instructor also has access to these materials and they are easy to track on-line. Any student caught plagiarizing will automatically fail the course and his/her name will be forwarded to the Honor Board.



Students are expected to make regular and significant contributions to class discussion. Your grade in this regard will be based upon both daily contributions during the semester and taking the lead in guiding class discussion for at least one class.

Class Participation Grading Scale:


Student is well prepared and enthusiastically participates in all class activities; is very considerate and cooperative with the rest of the class; asks questions and responds to questions; demonstrates knowledge of course materials; consistently practices critical thinking; actively helps to create a vibrant learning community.


Student is generally prepared and willing to participate in class activities; is relatively cooperative with the rest of the class; asks questions and responds to questions most of the time; makes an inconsistent effort to refer to readings and course topics; generally practices critical thinking; helps to create a vibrant learning community.


Student is often unprepared and reluctantly or sporadically participates in class activities; often does not ask questions or respond to questions; rarely makes an effort to demonstrate knowledge of course materials; rarely practices critical thinking; does not show much interest in creating a vibrant learning community.


Student is generally unprepared, unwilling to participate in class activities and unable to answer questions; does not formulate questions or responses; demonstrates little understanding of course materials; does not practice critical thinking; distracts from the creation of a vibrant learning community.


Student is absent (physically or mentally), unprepared, inattentive, uncooperative or disruptive in class.



All papers are due on the date assigned at the beginning of class. Late papers will not be accepted.  No exceptions.  Learning to handle your workload and deal with deadlines is a part of adult life.  This is an undergraduate seminar and at this level your writing is expected to be polished and mature.  Basic problems with MLA format, mechanics, and grammar are unacceptable and will be graded down significantly. If you have work to do in these areas please use The Writing Center.  My expectation is that the work you submit for grading is the result of multiple revisions and is highly polished.

Submissions will be timed individually to your own interests and The Reading Schedule.  The Response Papers are due at the beginning of class on the day we discuss each work.  The Graduate Seminar paper is due on the final day of classes. 


My office hours are posted and I will be available during these times. If you need to see me and these times are not convenient, please feel free to schedule a conference for some other mutually agreeable time.



In the event of classes being cancelled, students are expected to keep up with the reading.



Abel, Jessica, and Matt Madden.  Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. New York: First Second   Books, 2008.  Print.

Aldama, Frederick Luis. Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle. University of Texas Press,

2010. Print.

Bell, Roanne, and Mark Sinclair. Pictures And Words: New Comic Art And Narrative Illustration.

            Yale UP, 2005. Print.

Benton, Mike.  The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History.  Dallas, Tex.: Taylor, 1993.

Benton, Mike. Crime Comics: The Illustrated History.  Dallas, Tex: Taylor, 1993. Print.

Benton, Mike.  Horror Comics: The Illustrated History. Vol. 1 in the Taylor History of Comics.

            Dallas, Tex.: Taylor, 1991. Print.

Berona, David.  Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels. New York: Abrams, 2008. Print.

Boatright, Michael D. “Graphic Journeys: Graphic Novels’ Representations of Immigrant

            Experiences.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 53.6 (2010): 468–476.

Bongco, Mila. Reading Comics: Language, Culture, and the Concept of the Superhero in Comic

 Books. London: Taylor & Francis, 2000. Print.

Brisbin, Ally, and Paul Booth. “The Sand/wo/man: The Unstable Worlds of Gender in Neil

 Gaiman’s Sandman Series.” Journal of Popular Culture 46.1 (2013) : 20–37. Print.

Brown, Jeffrey A. “Comic Book Masculinity and the New Black Superhero.” African American

 Review 33.1 (1999) : 25–42. 1 Mar. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2901299>.

Brownstein, Charles, Interviewer.  Eisner/Miller: A One-on-One Interview Conducted by Charles

            Brownstein. Milwaukee: Dark Horse Books, 2005. Print.

Carter, James Bucky. “Transforming English with Graphic Novels: Moving Toward Our ‘Optimus

            Prime’.” The English Journal 97.2 (2007) : 49–53. 24 Feb. 2013.

Castaldo, Annalisa. “No More Yielding Than a Dream‘: The Construction of Shakespeare in ’The

Sandman.” College Literature 31.4 (2004) : 94–110. Print.

Cates, Isaac. “On the Literary Use of Superheroes; or, Batman and Superman Fistfight in

            Heaven.” American Literature 83.4 (2011) : 831–857.

Christiansen, Hans-Christian, “Comics and Films: A Narrative Perspective.” In Comics and

            Culture: Analytical and Theoretical Approaches to Comics, edited by Anne Magnussen

            and Hans-Christian Christiansen, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2000. Print.  

Chute, Hillary L. “Decoding Comics.” Modern Fiction Studies 52.4 (2006) : 1014–1027.

Chute, Hillary L., and Marianne DeKoven. “Introduction: Graphic Narrative.” MFS Modern

 Fiction Studies 52.4 (2006) : 767–782. 20 Feb. 2013.

Colvile, Robert. “How the Dark Knight Rises Reveals Batman’s  Conservative Soul.”

Telegraph.co.uk 17 Jul. 2012. 28 Feb. 2013. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/9405999/How-the-Dark-Knight-Rises-reveals-Batmans-Conservative-soul.html>.

Coogan, Peter.  Superhero: The Secret Orignin of a Genre.  Austin, Tex.: MonkeyBrain Books,

            2006. Print.

Daniels, Les.  Comix: A History of Comic Books in America. New York: Bonanza Books, 1971.


Duncan, Randy and Matthew J. Smith.  The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture. New

            York: Continuum International, 2009.

Eisner, Will. Comics & Sequential Art: Principles & Practice: Principles and Practices from the

            Legendary Cartoonist.  New York:  WW Norton, 2008. Print.

Eisner, Will.  Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices from the

            Legendary Cartoonist.  New York:  WW Norton, 2008.  Print.

Eisner, Will.  Will Eisner Reader: Seven Graphic Stories by a Comics Master. WW Norton, 1985.


 Ewert, Jeanne C. “Reading Visual Narrative: Art Spiegelman’sMaus’.” Narrative 8.1 (2000) :

            87–103. 1 Mar. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/20107202>.

Fawaz, Ramzi. “‘Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!’ Mutant Superheroes and the Cultural

            Politics of Popular Fantasy in Postwar America.” American Literature 83.2 (2011) : 355–  388. Print.

Feiffer, Jules.  The Great Comic Book Heroes.  New York: Dial Press, 1965.

Fishbaugh, Brent. “Moore and Gibbons’s Watchmen: Exact Personifications of Science.”

            Extrapolation (Kent State University Press) 39.3 (1998) : 189–198. Print.

Gabilliet, Jean-Paul, Bart Beaty, and Nick Nguyen. Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of

            American Comic Books. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2010. Print.

Genter, Robert.  “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Cold War Culture and the Birth

 of Marvel Comics,”  The Journal of Popular Culture 40, no.6 (2007): 957-978.

Gifford, Denis. The Jnternational Book of Comics. Rev. ed. London: Hamlyn, 1990. Print.

Goulart, Ron. Comic Book Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels,

Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe. 1st ed. New York: HarperEntertainment, 2004. Print.

Gravett, Paul. Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know. New York: Collins Design, 2005

Hatfield, Charles. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature . Jackson: UP ofMississippi,

2005. Print.

Heer, Jeet and Kent Worchester. A Comic Studies Reader. Jackson, Miss: UP of Mississippi, 2008.


Holm, Douglas, K. ed. R. Crumb: Conversations. Jackson, Miss.: UP of Mississippi, 2005. Print.

Hoover, Stephen. “The Case for Graphic Novels.” Communications in Information Literacy 5.2

            (2011) : 174–186. Print.

Hughes. David.  Comic Book Movies.  London: Virgin Books, 2003.  Print.

Hughes, Jamie A. “‘Who Watches the Watchmen?’: Ideology and ‘Real World’ Superheroes.”

            The Journal of Popular Culture 39.4 (2006) : 546–557. 11 Feb. 2013.


Irwin, William, and Mark D. White. Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test. John Wiley &

 Sons, 2009. Print.

Jones, Gerard, and  Will Jacobs.  The Comic Book  Heroes. Rocklin, Calif.: Prima Books, 1997.

Kannenberg, Gene. Five Hundred Essential Grapic Novels: The Ultimate Guide. New York:

            Collins Design, 2008. Print.

Karaminas, Vicki. “‘No Capes!’ Über Fashion and How ‘Luck Favors the Prepared’: Constructing

            Contemporary Superhero Identities in American Popular Culture.” International Journal

            of Comic Art 8.1 (2006) : 498–508. ofm. Web.

Keating, Erin M. “The Female Link: Citation and Continuity in Watchmen.” The Journal of

 Popular Culture 45.6 (2012) : 1266–1288. 12 Feb. 2013.

Klock, Geoff. How to Read Superhero Comics and Why. Continuum International Publishing

Group, 2002. Print.

Krensky, Stephen.  Comic Book Century: The History of American Comic Books.  Minneapolis:

            Twenty-first Century Books, 2008. Print.

Lancaster, Kurt. “Neil Gaiman’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Shakespeare Integrated into

            Popular Culture.” Journal of American & Comparative Cultures 23.3 (2000) : 69.

Levitz, Paul.  Seventy-five Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Koln: Taschen,

            2010. Print.

Madrid, Mike. The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book

            Heroines. Ashland , Oreg.: Exterminating Angel Press, 2009.

McCloud, Scott.  Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. 

            New York:  William Morrow, 2006.  Print.

McCloud, Scott.  Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an

 Art Form. New York: William Morrow, 2000. Print.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics:  The Invisible Art. New York: William Morrow, 1993.


Meskin, Aaron. “Comics as Literature?”  British Journal of Aesthetics 49: no.3 (July 2009) 219-

            239. Print.

Meskin, Aaron. “Defining Comics?” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65.4 (2007):

            371–381. Print.

Moeller, Robin A. “‘Aren’t These Boy Books?’: High School Students’ Readings of Gender in

            Graphic Novels.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 54.7 (2011) : 476–484. .


Molotiu, Anrei, ed. Abstract Comics. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2009. Print.

Nyberg, Amy Kiste. Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code. Jackson: UP of Mississippi,

 1998. Print.

O’Neill, Dennis.  The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics.  New York: Watson-Guptill, 2001.


Pendergast, John. “Six Characters in Search of Shakespeare: Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and

            Shakespearian Mythos.” Mythlore: A Journal of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles

            Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature 26.3-4 [101-102] (2008) : 185–197. Print.

Perna, Laura. “‘There Was Something Screwy Going On...’: The Uncanny in Charles Burns’s

            Graphic Novel Black Hole.” The Birmingham Journal of Literuture and Language, Vol. II

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Petrovic, Paul. “The Culturally Constituted Gaze: Fetishizing the Feminine from Alan Moore and

            Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen to Zack Snyder's Watchmen.” 1 Mar. 2013.


Prince, Michael J. “Alan Moore’s America: The Liberal Individual and American Identities in

            Watchmen.” Journal of Popular Culture 44.4 (2011) : 815–830. Print.

Rauch, Stephen. Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and Joseph Campbell: In Search of the Modern

            Myth. Wildside Press LLC, 2003. Print.

Reynolds, Richard. Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology.  Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1994. Print.

Robbins, Trina. The Great Women Superheroes. Northampton, Mass.: Kitchen Sink Press, 1996.


Robinson, Lillian S. Wonder Women: Feminisms and Superheroes.  New York: Routledge, 2004.


Sabin, Roger.  Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art.  New York: Phaidon,

 2001. Print.

Schwartz, Gretchen.  “Media Literacy, Graphic Novels and Social Issues.” Simile 7, no. 4 (November, 2007): 1-11. Print.

Sharkey, Rodney. “‘Being’ Decentered in Sandman: History, Dreams, Gender, and the ‘Prince of

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Singer, Marc. “‘Black Skins’ and White Masks: Comic Books and the Secret of Race.” African

            American Review 36.1 (2002) : 107. Print.

Tabachnick, Stephen E. “The Graphic Novel and the Age of Transition: A Survey and Analysis.”

 English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 53.1 (2010) : 3–28. 25 Feb. 2013.


Tabachnick, Stephen E., ed.  Teaching the Graphic Novel. New York: The Modern Language

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Teiwes, Jack. “A Man of Steel (by Any Other Name): Adaptation and Continuity in Alan Moore’s

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Varnum, Robin and Christina T. Gibbons The Language of Comics: Word and Image.  Jackson,

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Venezia, Tony. “Archives, Alan Moore, and the Historio-Graphic Novel.” International Journal of

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Versaci, Rocco. “How Comic Books Can Change the Way Our Students See Literature: One

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Versaci, Rocco. This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics as Literature. New York:

 Continuum, 2007.  Print.

Wegner, Phillip E. “Alan Moore, ‘Secondary Literacy,’ and the Modernism of the Graphic

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Weiner, Stephen. Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of the Graphic Novel.  New York: NBM,

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Weiner, Stephen. The 101 Best Graphic Novels. New York: NBM, 2005. Print.

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