English 4B07 Graphic Novels (2013)

Ontario College of Art and Design University

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Fall 2013
ENGL 4B07 Graphic Novels S01
Tuesday 11:50am – 2:50pm

Room 100 McCaul Street, Room 258 Dr. Kiki Benzon kbenzon@faculty.ocadu.ca

Office Hours & Location: Tuesday 3:00-5:00 (or by appointment) Room 325

Credit Value: 0.05

Prerequisite: 10.0 credits, including all first-year requirements (5.0 credits) and 1.0 credit of second-year liberal arts & sciences (including 0.5 credit in VISA/VISC/VISD/VISM). ENGL 2B03 is strongly recommended in advance of 300 or 400 level ENGL Literature courses Antirequisite: N/A


A detailed look at book-length sequential art, this course will examine the history of comic book publishing and readership, including superhero, science-fiction, historical, and autobiographical forms, as well as various international types, such as manga or historietas. Also under consideration will be an exploration of how the terms “graphic novel,” “comic book,” and “popular culture” affect perceptions of the genre. How meaning is approached and understood when text and images are incorporated will be a central theme of the course.


All of the books for the course will be available at the OCADU Bookstore and at The Beguiling (601 Markham Street, Toronto; 416-533-9168). Students who identify themselves as being in 4B07 will receive special prices at The Beguiling. Below are required books, list prices, and special prices at The Beguiling for students in our course:

Understanding Comics. Scott McCloud. William Morrow. 1993. ($24.99) $20
Watchmen. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. DC Comics. 1986/87. ($19.99) $15
The Complete Maus. (or Maus vols. I & II) Art Spiegleman. Penguin. 2003. ($40.00) $30
Black Hole. Charles Burns. Pantheon. 2005. ($22.95) $18
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Chris Ware. Pantheon Books. ($22.95) $18
Ayako. Osamu Tezuka. Vertical. 2010. HC ($33.00) $21
Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95. Joe Sacco. 2000. ($24.99) $18
From Hell. Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Top Shelf. 1989. ($35.00) $28
Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography. Chester Brown. D+Q. 2003. ($17.95) $14
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. Guy Delisle. D+Q. 2007. ($16.95) $13


Upon completion of this course, students will have § developed an understanding of the cultural and aesthetic significance of graphic fiction § engaged with and analyzed narrative works that combine text, visual art, and various design elements § intensified their appreciation of literature through analyzing and discussing texts from various theoretical perspectives § improved their skills as critical writers, readers and thinkers


The course consists of weekly classes, which involve lectures, discussion, and student presentations. Students are expected to read the required readings, attend all classes, complete assignments, and contribute to discussion. Absences from class must be supported with medical documentation; three unsupported absences may jeopardize your standing in the course.


Short Paper (20%) Students will write a short paper (1200-1500 words) on an assigned topic during the first five weeks of the course. Research Paper (35%) Students will develop a topic (in consultation with the instructor) and submit a research paper (2600-3000 words) near the end of the term.

Quizzes (20%) There will be 10 quizzes (one each week after the first two weeks of class), each worth 2%. Quizzes will be based on weekly reading assignments. Missed quizzes cannot be made up; if you miss a quiz for medical reasons, please supply a doctor’s note so that your final quiz grade can weighted accordingly.

Presentation (15%) Students will sign up for a 20-minute presentation in the first two weeks of the course. Presentations will deal with course readings and particular topics assigned by the instructor. Participation (10%) Participation involves engaging with course material through classroom or online discussion.


There is no final exam for this course.


Week 1: Sept. 10 – Introduction to the Course
Week 2: Sept. 17 – Understanding Comics (McCloud)
Week 3: Sept. 24 – Watchmen (Moore/Gibbons)
Week 4: Oct. 1 – Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Ware)
Week 5: Oct. 8 – The Complete Maus (Spieleman)
Week 6: Oct. 15 – Pyongyang (Delisle) / Short Paper Due (20%)
Week 7: Oct. 22 – Safe Area Gorazde (Sacco)
Week 8: Oct.29 – Ayako (Tezuka) Week 9: Nov. 5 – Louis Riel (Brown)
Week 10: Nov. 12 – Black Hole (Burns)
Week 11: Nov. 19 – From Hell (Moore/Campbell) (first half) / Research Paper Due (35%)
Week 12: Nov. 26 – From Hell (second half)