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Spring 2014 Course Descriptions

English 4905 - Studies in Youth Literature: From the Funny Papers, to Comic Books, to Graphic Novels

English 4905 Section 001       CRN 37325

Studies in Youth Literature: From the Funny Papers, to Comic Books, to Graphic Novels     0930-1045 TR

This class will explore what has at times constituted a forbidden, underground realm of Children's Literature. Scorned by librarians, condemned by teachers, damned by clergymen, and finally even investigated in televised hearings by Congress, comic books, together with their more respectable cousins, the newspaper funny papers, have contributed significantly to youth culture. With the arrival of the comic book's educated literary uncle, the graphic novel, the genre has gained the sort of serious attention we will be pursuing in this course. We'll be looking at the good, the bad, and the possibly ugly as we follow a children's "sub-literary" genre on its journey to respectability. Readings will range from the early examples by Winsor McCay (Little Nemo in Slumberland), to teen-angst sagas by Daniel Clowes (Ghost World), and Charles Burns (Black Hole). Along the way we will pay our respects to Donald Duck, Prince Valliant, Tintin, the work of Maurice Sendak and Raymond Briggs, Shaun Tan's The Arrival, and much else. We will also examine comic books in instructional and propaganda roles (Pip, The Magic Safety Elephant!), graphic novel versions of other literary works, and examples of graphic biography and history. Students will engage in much discussion, oral presentations, brief response writing, a major research paper, and a final exam. (Group 5)