FYS 101 Theorizing Comics and Graphic Novels

While comics have a long and distinguished history, they have often been stereotyped as lowbrow fodder for children, delinquents, and social misfits. Recently, however, the appearance of popular and sophisticated works such as Watchmen, Maus, and Persepolis has caused readers both within and outside academia to take comics and graphic novels seriously as fit objects for study. In this seminar, we will be exploring the cutting edge of philosophical and narratological investigation of comics as an art form. We will consult both academic texts and comics themselves in order to examine closely such questions as: What is a comic? What features, if any, do comics have that make them distinctive as artistic media? Can comics be adapted fully into film? How do comics tell stories? What is the value of comics? Under what circumstances, if any, do comics merit ethical approbation or condemnation? The course will stress the importance of critical and creative thinking, as well as philosophical argumentation, in coming to terms with a vital part of our contemporary culture.

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