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Fall 2020 Expanded Course Descriptions

All fall 2020 courses in the Humanities Program will be held remotely (online).

HUM 002A: Global Comics
Toby Warner

Comics have long been distrusted for their ability to circulate and manipulate stereotypes, their ambiguous relationship to realism, and the possibility that they offer ‘too much’ pleasure to be taken seriously. In this class we will turn these suspicions on their head by examining how comics artists use an in-between medium – between words and images, between high and popular culture – to engage deeply with the concerns of their times. In readings and lectures, we will explore the history of comics and examine how comics emerged from a long tradition of graphic narratives. We will discover how comics work as a medium and learn to identify and appreciate their formal properties. We will study the social, political and cultural contexts of familiar comics icons such as Superman, Tintin and Wonder Woman and trace how the medium of comics has been reinvented around the world. Throughout the quarter, we will consider how comics have been used to investigate questions of identity, power, sexuality, and history. In studying comics as humanists, we will discover the kinds of questions humanist critics ask and explore some of the different methodologies humanists employ in order to think critically about cultural objects.

Required texts:

  • Art Spiegelman, Maus I: My Father Bleeds History, Pantheon, 1986. ISBN 0394747232.
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home, Mariner, 2007, ISBN 0544709047.