Winter course on graphic memoir & essay

This coming quarter I’ll be teaching one of Kalamazoo College’s new Reading the World courses. English 155 is subtitled Identities; our topic will be Graphic Memoir and Essay.

The objective of the course is to provide students with the skills to analyze graphic memoirs and essays, in part by experimentally authoring their own duotextural pieces. Students will be expected to bring first-year writing competencies and approximately first-grade drawing skills to in-class and at-home exercises and, optionally, longer midterm and term projects.

Evaluation will include points for writing and for sketches—ranging from rough to comprehensive, depending on the assignment—that suggest how verbal and visual narrative elements would be joined to make an excellent whole. Weekly response papers, meanwhile, will ask students to analyze style and theme in published works. Students may undertake all-text critical papers in lieu of duotextural midterm and term projects.

Required readings (subject to change): The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman (or Maus I and Maus II); The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (or Persepolis 1 and Persepolis 2); Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Allison Bechdel; Stitches, by David Small; Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey, by GB Tran; Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, by Belle Yang; A Few Perfect Hours, by Josh Neufeld; Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (trans. Anjali Singh); In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman; Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays, ed. Brendan Burford; Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden; additional short graphic memoirs and essays; and theoretical essays on form, genre, and the ethics of life writing.

Required materials: inexpensive sketch pad; pen or pencils; and a 1303i Pickett Metric General Purpose or similar drawing template (costing approximately $10).

The course will meet MWF, 1:15-2:30.

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