Comics Studies

With Michael Borkent

Comics, which communicate with images, words and layouts, have become an increasingly popular form of visual communication and storytelling in various forms (print and online), genres (non-fiction and fiction), and for various audiences. Comics now frequent bestselling book lists and garner literary awards (usually in the guise of graphic novels), while remaining in newspapers (as comic strips and political cartoons), in comic book shops, on gum wrappers (see Dubble Bubble gum), and on smart phones and computers (as webcomics). As a popular and common form of communication, comics have become an increasingly popular academic topic. In this course we will read a range of academic articles about comics from a variety of disciplines, including art and literary studies, history, linguistics, and medicine. Through these readings, we will examine how academics develop knowledge about their research area and specifically how they communicate this to others as part of a scholarly conversation in their discipline. We will consider how an interdisciplinary perspective on comics helps us isolate the questions and values behind different approaches to research and the features of how they communicate this. Students will engage in a series of interconnected assignments and a research project about comics. In so doing, they will develop their skills as scholarly communicators by employing key features of academic style across a variety of genres, while refining their critical engagements with multimodal artifacts that use visual, verbal, and spatial cues to build meaning.