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Welcome to Understanding Literature Through Graphic Novels

Syllabus for Graphic Novel Elective
Written and taught by Leigh Brodsky
Course Introduction:
First I want to take this opportunity to welcome you to, what I hope, will be an interesting and dynamic class. I designed this course with two main goals in mind. The first goal that we will focus on is how to read a text that not only contains text, but images as well. While these texts may not look like the traditional books that you have studied in school they contain similar uses of symbol identification, and character analysis. Using these images you will be asked to identify aspects of tone, voice and mood, which we will ultimately use to identify cultural connections within graphic and traditional texts.

The second goal that I have set for this course is for us to really see the connections between comics and traditional literature. You will be asked to take your reading of images and compare that to how authors construct meaning through words alone. There is a translation that occurs between the two different mediums, and yet it is what makes these two mediums universal. The result of this study will be for you to create a proposal for your own graphic novel.

Supplies:
You will need-
-a binder with paper
-a pen
-a highlighter

Grade Breakdown:
Your marking period grade will break down as so:
Projects/ Essays: 50-100 points
Quizzes: 5-50 points
Homework: 5-25 points
Blog: 10 points per entry unless otherwise noted
Class Participation: 50 points per marking period

Focus Questions:  
These are some of the questions that we will be for each text that we study.
1. How does one read a graphic text?
2. How does analyzing visual landscapes help understand textual “langscapes?”
3. How does connecting graphic texts to canonical texts aid interpretation?
4. Why are graphic novels considered modern mythology?
5. How do illustrators and writers translate traditional themes? Does this work effectively?

Course Outline:
Unit I:
Introduction to graphic novels: How do I read this?
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
Selections from Flight: Volume One

Unit II: What makes a hero?
Canonical Texts:
Beowulf
Graphic Texts:
Superman

Unit III: The Antihero
Canonical Texts:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Graphic Texts:
Batman: The Dark Night Returns by Frank Miller
Dark Knight

Unit IV: Comic books as a reflection of society
Canonical Texts:
Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
Letters from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
Graphic Texts:
Uncanny X-Men (issues from the 1960s)

Unit V: Comics as a reflection of negative society
Canonical Texts:
Selected short stories
Graphic Texts:
V For Vendetta by Alan Moore
Watchman by Alan Moore
Selections from Walking Dead

Unit VI: Literature entwined with the Graphic
Canonical Text:
Selected Fairy Tales
Graphic Text:
Fables