English 329: Visual Narratives
University Course Catalog
Exploration of graphic novels, comics, and transmedia storytelling. Readings will include both exemplary visual narratives and relevant critical theory on such texts.
Instructor Syllabus Course Description
Visual Narratives is a course about what happens when people make visual images and design integral to the stories they tell. We’ll look at graphic novels and comics, including works by Lynda Barry (merging the art of the essay and the art of collage), Will Eisner (sometimes called the father of modern graphic novels), Joe Sacco (who renders his war-zone reporting in comic book form), and Joss Whedon (who did a run writing for an obscure set of superheroes called “the X-Men”). We’ll wonder if these sorts of texts, in all their unusual shapes and sizes, will be the last vestige of print publishing in the age of the Kindle. We’ll consider how images—alone, juxtaposed, and in sequence—can be used to tell stories and send messages. We’ll explore (and develop) the critical vocabulary needed to talk about visual texts. We’ll also be thinking a little bit about transmedia storytelling—what happens when a story or set of characters jumps willy nilly from one medium to another (think The Matrix, a story told in feature-length movies, graphic vignettes, animated shorts, and video games). Along the way, you’ll try your hand at creating some visual narratives of your own (but artistic talent is not a requirement for the course—only the willingness to do some thoughtful play with storytelling images).