Sunday, December 2, 2007

Electronic Office Hours Only, Monday

Weather conditions at present make it uncertain whether the University will be open tomorrow, but a certainty that travelling conditions will be treacherous.
Accordingly, I am cancelling in-person Office Hours tomorrow and substituting electronic Office Hours. This means that you can give me your questions by email or contact me by phone at 604-250-9432 and I will give direct response between 10:00 am and 4:30 pm.
If voice mail kicks in on the phone, just leave a message.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Important article on the G.N.-themed "Beowulf"

Via our indispensable friends at Arts & Letters Daily, an exceptional article on the current graphic-novel themed movie version of Beowulf, screenplay Neil Gaiman. I can't extract the kernel: it is all kernel. But it hits several topics of our class interests, including the disconnect between what academia prefers and what (largely male) readers and movie-watchers prefer and purchase; the difference between pagan and Christian notions of the heroic; and the nature of criticism.
....there is a distinct sympathy for honor culture in [works like Miller's 300]....brute strength, tribal loyalty, and stoic courage actually get things done.
Academe finds all this loathsome and backward, and, of course, our liberal culture is ostensibly opposed to the social hierarchies, patriarchy, and chauvinism of older honor cultures. But narratives and representations about heroic strength (even flawed and misdirected) remain deeply satisfying for many people.
Link to the article from the Chronicle of Higher Education is here.

Good price for a G.N.

Classfellow N.K. passes on the information that has a "a screaming deal for anyone looking to add Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers to their collection."

Click this post's or the book title for the hotlink.

[A 'screaming deal'?]

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Behind the Scenes" Video

One of the seminar groups has given permission to make available online their "Behind the Scenes" documentary of preparation for their presentation. The files are at this link and are in DVD-format.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Guest Speaker: Becca Young

Tomorrow's guest speaker on the graphics side of things has the following pertinent biography:
Becca Young - Senior Designer - Karyo-Eldman: building design and brand identity for organizations and companies> throughout Vancouver. She began pursuing her passion for a career in graphic design while completing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at the University of British Columbia. Becca's vivid imagination -- a result of her combined aptitude with the literal and flair for the visual -- make her a valuable member of the Karyo design team. She was formerly a senior designer at Evolutionary Imaging and Advertising Design, for six years, and possesses extensive experience with non-profit organizations as well as the restaurant, entertainment, event-planning and fashion industries. Becca has a passion for technology, and is a key resource for multimedia, online, new media, website and interactive> projects.

Graphic Novelists .... on 'The Simpsons'

Here's a double-shot-of-espresso pop-culture hit, via classfellow C.V.
I had the Simpsons on the TV, as I do once in a while on Sunday nights....and I looked over at the TV and Bart and Milhouse were at a comic book convention, when who showed up but Alan Moore and Art Spiegelman....Also, Comicbook Guy called all the children, "fanboys" (whichI remember being a comic book term).....The episode is called "Husbands and Knives".

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weather symmetry

Update: now that was mildly freaky.
[Today's (smaller) picture beside ..... ]

Here is a picture I took from my office window on November 29th last year.

Be ready....

More on Charles Schultz

Further to the earlier post on the new and exceptionally valuable biography of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, has a delightful slide-show essay on the book which adds specific strips to analysis of the artist and the biography.

I recommend viewing the slide-show, along with the articles in my earlier post, to get very practical examples of how to make scholarly analyses of comics.

And follow this link to a delightful page praising " artist who’s done the Peanuts gang, all grown up and drawn ....[manga] style. [I smell online dojin....]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Final Paper: Permanent Link Added

I have added a permament link under 'Pertinent & Impertinent" at the right here to the Final Research Assignment Criteria post--->

"Are You Breaking the Law Right Now?"

Classfellow P.O. sends along this informative video article, pace our lecture on dojinshi.
Slate contributor Tim Wu looks at how common copyright infringement has become, and how companies sometimes choose to look the other way (when it benefits them, of course).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Reading Manga as Japanese

Please take a second to vote in the poll to your right: give your honest opnion & we'll discuss this Tuesday.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Comics in Rare Book and Manuscript Collection

From classfellow C.V., an article from Cornell University on the addition of an extensive comics collection to their elite Special Collections.
The breadth of the comic collection in the library's Division of Rare Book and Manuscript Collections includes 10,000 hand-drawn newspaper comic strips and related materials from the 1940s through the 1980s as well as more than 5,000 comic books. The collection contains obscure titles, popular newspaper comics, celebrated comic book heroes and many comics featured in recent movies.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Manga and its embodying culture

There is an excellent article online on the artistic operation of sabi, "Bashō and the Poetics of 'Haiku'", by Makoto Ueda in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

Tuesday's lecture gave a rigourous introduction to Japanese aesthetic concepts, in order for us to properly understand the ideas and culture which make manga, manga and not merely comics written in Japanese. To review, three important sensibilities presented were mujokan, mushin and mono no aware. These concepts were then described in terms of the over-arching wabi-sabi worldview. Next, specific æsthetic concepts were detailed: shichi-go-san, jo-ha-kyu, ten-chi-jin and shin-gyo-so. Lastly, the Japanese composition principle of Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu was explained.

The lecture gave you material by which your understanding of our manga course texts can be enriched. As always, if you require points of clarification or elaboration from lecture, stop by any of the abundant Office Hours!

For more information on the Japanese æsthetic , visit this majestic online resource.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Atop The Fourth Wall"

Via classfellow C.V., this excellent site on & around comics,
Here is their explanatory blurb:
Welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where we sit over bad comic books and set fire to them. We all know there are bad movies, bad TV shows, and bad novels, but not enough focus is given to those awful, awful comic books. Now I love comics. I can list off several titles at any given point that I'm reading and love, but some books are just plain awful.So here's how it works - I find a book that is so painfully bad (or one is suggested to me) and I go over it detail by detail, analyzing and scrutinizing its flaws and trying to make you laugh along the way at some of the sheer idiotic funnybooks out there. Either go to the latest review or click "Read More!" to see the archive!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Comics Writers Political Selves

A look behind the curtain at the private political involvement of a comics writer & manager is viewable at the unlikely viral success, Hillary! Uncensored- Banned by the Media: a preview of an upcoming documentary on Hillary Clinton, and featuring .... Stan Lee.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Group Seminar Project: Deadline Extension

I am extending the deadline for the Seminar Group Evaluation Presentation from week twelve to week thirteen. Present the completed project to me, then -- that is, hand it in to me in in my office or my Department mailbox -- on or before November 29th.

Friday, November 2, 2007

We are not alone.....

Classfellow N.K. sends along this link to an article about some university courses around comics. His email includes the following, lucky *(&@(!:
Also, I had the great pleasure of meeting Henry Rollins on Tuesday night and he had mentioned that he went to the San Diego comic-con so I asked him what his take on comic books was with regard for our course topic. He said that although he loved them it is difficult to defend them as literature, he did, however, conclude that they are important and should be taken seriously! So if Henry Rollins says it's so then isn't that enough?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Keeping it real

Part of the requirement for a scholarly presentation of graphic novels (so-called, of course) is, as you by now know, to add sorely-needed gravity to some airy -- at times, gassy -- effusions of aggrandizement from devotees.

This coming from someone who passionately enjoys comics. Under the stimulus of Alan Moore's Albion I had nearly indecent personal response, and I want to trumpet its excellence far and wide. That, however, makes me a fan. As an academic, I have to be ruthless in exorcising my enthusiasm (as in OED, Possession by a god, supernatural inspiration, prophetic or poetic frenzy) and approach the work -- and all comics the same -- with cool and measured reason.

Here is an example of what I mean. Look at these three blurbs from a current back cover of Moore's Watchmen (a comic which I entirely enjoy):
  • "The would-be heroes of Watchmen have staggeringly complex psychological profiles"
  • "A masterwork representing the apex of artistry"
  • "The greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced"
Now this is so over-the-top that it defies parody. The Onion could hardly increase the extremism. I happen to think Watchmen a great comic, and worthy of laudation. But staggeringly complex psychological profiles? And the greatest piece of popular fiction? Whoever wrote these plaudits (the first is from the New York Times) either has let enjoyment cloud judgement or simply has not read much fiction. Moore, for all his excellencies, cannot hold a candle to the truly great novelists; indeed, I have a hard time believing that Alan Moore thinks that Alan Moore holds a candle to .... oh, Dostoevsky, say. (And the adjective "popular" puts Watchmen up against Charles Dickens....)

This is not to say that when we write and lecture and present on a graphic novel that has made us greatly and cleanly happy we adopt dolorous countenance. Enjoyment and delight are healthy responses. It is rather, I would say, that calm and rigourous scholarly analysis improves our enjoyment by allowing us to know that, if ever a favoured work should be shown to fail against credible criteria of literary merit, the ones that do pass academic scrutiny are to that degree the more worthy of our huzzahs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On the Individual Research Assignment

The Individual Research Assignment has two points of rationale (beyond the improvement of one's writing): the first is to ensure that a course on Graphic Novels is fully grounded in scholarship, and the second is to give strong and direct preparation fo rthe final paper. Isolating and adhering to a single potent thesis is the one achievement which can most materially benefit one's work for a successful paper.
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." Robert Mustand.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Proofreading Abbreviations

An on-line list of proofreading abbreviations may be viewed at this link.
I use the version authorised in my beloved Little, Brown Handbook for marking essays, but the differences are minor.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Current stories on issues of Jewishness: pace "Maus"

Two online articles on issues of Jewishness pertinent to attitudes represented in Maus: one from the slightly left-of-centre Toronto Globe and Mail on the speech of a Holocaust denialist, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at Columbia University in the U.S.; the other at the libertarian law blog The Volokh Report titled "Is Neo-Conservatism a Jewish movement?"

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Imperfect heroes: the Perfect Villain?

From seminar this week, it is a peculiar thing to encounter, from within Western civilisation, expressions of praise for works of art or entertainment that "deconstruct the myth of the superhero."

As I detailed, the notion that a hero is perfect and needing a critique to reveal his flaws is a freakish one in Western civilisation. The idea is introduced virtually ex nihilo by two 19th Century philosophers -- Nietzsche in Germany and Thomas Carlyle in Britain (the latter being, strange as it seems, by far the more influential) -- who promoted their own invention, from springs hardly untainted, of an elite human being, the Übermensch ('Overman'), who exists entirely beyond the criticism of the herd, and then the playwright Bernard Shaw, at the end of the 19th Century, popularises the overman idea in plays like his Man and Superman.

The comic book Superman, which of course encoded this idea deeply into popular culture, has, as we now know, an intriguing, and mitigating, justification in its creation by two North American Jews in the 1930s who subverted the Nazi's Aryanism by throwing an American super-Aryan back in their faces.

In the entire rest of the Western tradition, which is, for all intents and purposes, all of it, heroes just are flawed. It is hardly an exaggeration, in fact, to say that 'flawed' is part of the very definition of 'hero.' In the Judaic stream, their great national hero is King David: his figure fills the space that in other cultural stories is occupied by a semi-mythic incarnation, but in the Hebrew scriptures is flawed to the point of broken. In the Greek stream, their demi-gods and deities, more than flawed are odious: petty, vindictive, mean, jealous, capricious.

I offer you to think of a hero, real or quasi-real, (King Arthur my choice); reflect on his or story story; and ask if they be perfect or flawed. The answer, I wager, is always 'flawed.

Yet, a complexity arose in one seminar. My confident story threatened in its stability by the discovery that perfection indeed exists: but not in a hero but in a villain. To wit, George W. Bush was presented to me as absolute Evil - perfect in malevolence, infinite in reach. Lucifer in Gaiman's Sandman is read as being morally ambiguous; nay, Milton's Satan I am given as a very hero. But George W. Bush has no shade of good, no remittance from pure and total Badness.

From the seminar, I was reminded that George W. Bush caused Islamic terrorism and recently acted with a veto specifically to prevent sick children from receiving any medical care. From the news, I am told that George W. Bush caused the current death and devastation by the fires in the State of California. He also started the Iraq war so he could send kids off to to get their heads blown off for his amusement. And from the blogosphere, a DailyKos direct quotation: "George W Bush is a conscience lacking, cold blooded murderer who enjoys seeing innocent people killed."

It seems to me, then, that there is no evil in the world for which George W. Bush is not personally responsible. This certainly screws up my tidy theory that Western culture does not typically deal with people in absolutes; preferring instead shades, mixtures, development.

For myself, I'm not American and so have no special investment in Mr. Bush one way or the other. In the interests of my developing scholarly ideas, however, I welcome the opportunity to have my theory debunked fully and mercilessly.

So, please add a comment that gives a specific item as evidence of the total and perfect evil of George W. Bush.
Update: predictably, part of the blogosphere is satirising the configuration of George W. Bush as Absolute Evil.

Individual Essay Presentation: Example

Here is another sample of a student essay for the Individual Research Presentation assignment that exemplifies the character and quality being submitted. Although, there are other possible types of successful essay, certainly, and these are welcome, this one straightforwardly fits the criteria detailed in the assignment post.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not your parents' small group presentation ....

Some Small Group class presentations are more ... out there, shall we say, than others, as you can see here, here, here, here and here.
There is a perfectly innocent explanation. Honestly!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Inklings

Here is a very helpful, link-rich website on the Inklings group and their illuminating relevancy to the occult aspects of Neil Gaiman's text. As I suggested in lecture, Gaiman is clearly an admirer of the Inklings.

And of course I need to link to the Oxford Inklings blog....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Occult & local cats

À propos this week's lecture on The Sandman, note this article in today's Vancouver Sun on the policy of Pet Shelters to withdraw their black-coloured cats from adoption during Halowe'en.
There are some really sick people around," said Duncan.
"You know, the whole black cat and evil thing. Certainly black cats are in grave danger at Halloween."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Manga Confession

From today's, manga as someone's personal demon ....

Friday, October 19, 2007

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore is a GN that consistently finds its way into our class discussions.

Its historical origins are marked in England by 'Guy Fawkes night' every November the 5th & the attendant rhyme "Remember, remember, the 5th of November/ Gunpowder, treason, & plot," we used to say (in fact, I still have a card with the slogan) that "Guy Fawkes was the only man to enter parliament with honest intentions."

The phrase that is used as the ad slogan for V for Vendetta -- "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people" -- is an expression of the central truth in Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan: politics are fear and power, that's all. And another phrase from "V" -- "Blowing up a building can change the world" -- is a paraphrase of Satan in Paradise Lost, Bk XIII :

126: Nor hope to be my self less miserable
127: By what I seek, but others to make such
128: As I though thereby worse to me redound:
129: For onely in destroying I finde ease

134: In wo then; that destruction wide may range:
Thus the film validates my understanding that Leviathan, often read as mere philosophy or a 'humanities' work, is a thoroughly literary work: here, having been reworked into a screenplay. Of course, the film takes on ominous meaning after the London bombings by Islamic terrorists.

V for Vendetta is left-wing agitprop, of course, but, natheless, it is intensely relevant to our studies. As some of you know already, agitprop & didacticism are my bane in art. I detest being beaten over the head with any one political or social position or the other: on the other hand, I absolutely adore heteroglossia - the dialogic play between competing positions; the opportunity to see both sides fairly represented & unresolved is almost an absolute criterion for Art - in my opinion, that is.

To illustrate why I condemn agitprop, here are series of quotations from a *left-wing* exemplar -- Lenin -- which are practically dialogue from the *right-wing* character of the political leader in V for Vendetta.
  1. "It is necessary secretly -and urgently-to prepare for terror. And on Tuesday we will decide whether it will be through the SNK [Sovet Narodnih Komisarov - Soviet of Peoples' Commissars] or otherwise."

  2. "It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed."

  3. "Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volost's must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle "with the kulaks." We need to set an example.
    1) You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers.
    2) Publish their names.
    3) Take away all of their grain.
    4) Execute the hostages - in accordance with yesterday's telegram.
    This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let's choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.
    Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this. Yours, Lenin
    P.S. Use your toughest people for this."

[Quotations taken from "Wikiquote" advisedly (then verfied independently against a reputable source) as a ready means to invoke your accepted authority ....]

How much better for art -- how much better for its effect & longevity-- had the film followed Orwell's example in "1984" & left the transitory orientation of the party in power a matter indifferent.

Update 1: Thanks to all who participated. We'll talk about The Libertine now this coming week.

Update 2: Please read this supreme work of film criticism comparing V for Vendetta unfavourably to Terry Gilliam's Brazil. The author, Matt Feeney -- to whom I tug my forelock as critical nobility -- complements my objection to V for Vendetta's agitprop by showing, with succinct devastation, how Gilliam's film is superior by its subtlety and its recognition that tyranny is a system and a process. Remember: Hobbes states clearly that Leviathan is not the person or the party who happen to be in power, but rather the system of laws and letters which the person or persons in the offices encoded therein merely administer. To give two citations establishing this, first, "Of Commonwealth, Chapter XXII:

In a body politic, if the representative be one man, whatsoever he does in the person of the body which is not warranted in his letters, nor by the laws, is his own act, and not the act of the body, nor of any other member thereof besides himself: because further than his letters or the laws limit, he representeth no man's person, but his own.

Or this, from "Of Commonwealth" Chapter XIX:

Of all these forms of government, the matter being mortal, so that not only monarchs, but also whole assemblies die, it is necessary for the conservation of the peace of men that as there was order taken for an artificial man, so there be order also taken for an artificial eternity of life; without which men that are governed by an assembly should return into the condition of war in every age; and they that are governed by one man, as soon as their governor dieth. This artificial eternity is that which men call the right of succession.

Here is a sample of Mr. Feeney's prosaic and witty brilliance:

Now the Wachowski brothers have taken V for Vendetta, Allan Moore's mad-at-Margaret Thatcher graphic novel, and updated it to express their present political rage. The Wachowskis are very angry at George W. Bush, but still, for some reason, it's Britain's Parliament that gets blown up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Weird visual illusion

Ahead of this coming week's lecture on Neil Gaiman's Sandman, why not take the test at this link and leave a note of your result in the comments section here.

I can only see it go clockwise .....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Proposed Changes to Syllabus

I heard from a small delegation of students today that the writing workload for our course is .... a challenge. My inner self immediately recalled the old days, when I was a undergraduate, where we had three fifty-page papers for each third year course (and walked to university fifty miles in the snow, uphill both ways), and I also inwardly hummed the second verse of Kris Kristofferson's "Best of All Possible Worlds."

However, my kind, gentle accommodating outer self committed to a review of the assignment array, particularly in relation to the five small group assignments, which were presented as requiring some significant work.

On reflection, I present the following adjustment of the assignment requirements, which require unanimous agreement before they can be implemented.
  • Change from 5 small group assignments to 2, each of the two worth 10% of the course grade, and both can be on either the formal aspect or a social context. You can chose any two of your currently scheduled dates for these assignments. The class presentation date will remain the same.
  • The small group assignment being then worth 20%, the remaining 5% of the current assignment weight will then transfer to the seminar group project, which would keep the same criteria, but would be worth 25% of the course grade instead of the current 20%.
  • Change the Final essay world length, currently 3500 words, to "between 3000-3500 words"
So, the updated weighting would look as follows (changed text emboldened.)

20% Four individual written research presentations (4 x 250 words)
20% Two group written research presentations (2 x 400 words per student)
25% One group written evaluative presentation (1500 words per student or equivalent)
35% One final research paper (between 3000-3500 words)
I will discuss in person with Thursday seminars, and then send an email to all class members and poll the preference.

Art, a criterion of: from SFU Peak.

There is this useful student article (albeit with some errors of grammar) pertinent to our inquiry into valid criteria for art, published in the current edition of The Peak.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Reminder: Assignments Schedules Available OnLine

A reminder that I have made a grid of all your Small Group & Individual assignments available at my online filespace.

To increase the convenience even more, here is a list of direct links to each.

This is an opportunity for you to verify that you are scheduled:

  1. for four, and four only, Individual dates,
  2. for five, and five only, small Group dates,
  3. in the dates that you have written in your agenda. (The dates online here are taken from your hand-in sheets.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Creator & Created

Update: There is a vastly superior review of the Schultz biography here, at the New Yorker magazine online, and featured on today's Arts & Letters Daily. The review is an outstanding example of analysing comics effectively, substantially yet without ponderous pretension.

The often-intriguing relationship between comic character and comic creator is treated informatively in this review on of a new biography of Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, Featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown.

The biography is Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. I have not read the biography, but the writer of review comes across with a naively idealised view of humanity -- effectively blaming her childhood idol for lacking Sainthood.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Individual Assignment: Sample

I have uploaded this sample of the Individual Assignment from among the first scheduled round to allow you to orient yourselves to your classfellows' work. The sample I have chosen did not receive the highest grade in the class -- although the author is a top-class student -- and contains (as indeed most of our work does from time to time) several errors. However, the engagement is at a suitable level, and the central insight it that argues is a very creditable one and presents an understanding helpful beyond the purview of the specific essay.

Hyphens: Illustrating Grammar vs. Style

From today's Toronto Globe and Mail
Bye-bye (or is it byebye?) to 16,000 silly hyphens
October 11, 2007 at 1:35 AM EDT
In my position of great privilege, hyphens are one thing I never have to worry about. Oh, I have the explanatory pages marked in reference books, and there are many of them. My Editing Canadian English devotes 12 solid pages to compounds and how they are made, to the difference between a hyphen and an n-dash and a solidus (that's what commoners call a forward slash). My Oxford Dictionary for Writers And Editors has a separate entry for each compound, one for crossbill (a passerine bird) and one for cross-bill (a promissory note), one for cross-link (hyphen), crossmatch (one word) and cross section (two words). I don't have to learn all these words and
exceptional cases; I don't even have to read them.

Office Hours

I like to have a great deal of availability, as not everyone is on campus outside class times in this day & age, and so I squeezed in an extra Office Hour between my morning and afternoon classes Tuesday & Thursday this term. As it has happened, two or three times already, including today, I have remained in the morning classroom in student consultation where it seemed discourteous, and perhaps superfluous, to break up to the office

I was just alerted also that the sign directing you to the Bennett Library yesterday was removed sometime before three o'clock.

What I will do, then, to provide maxiumum availability is to (a.) keep my Tuesday and Thursday hour, but to advise that I may be consulting in transit during the time, while (b.) extending my Monday Office Hour from four hours to six and a half hours, ten o'clock to four thirty, and my Wednesday Office Hour from five hours to six hours, from ten o'clock to three o'clock.

I am also available for consultation by appointment Friday mornings. And should there be a missed appointment, by all means call my daytime cell phone number: 604-250-9432.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lecture Week Upcoming

For lecture week seven, bring both your Miller and Gaiman texts, as we will wrap up the former and begin the latter. We will also see a worthwhile documentary analysis of comic book representations of the superheroes, pertinent to our Miller text.

Near-mint copy of Batman's debut found in attic

More from our State media, a story on a collectors find of the first Batman comic.

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 Canadian Press:
ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. - Holy collectibles, Batman!

A near-mint copy of Detective Comics No. 27, a pre-Second World War comic featuring Batman's debut, was recently found in an attic and sold to a local collector.
The comic is considered to be the second-most valuable available and can fetch up to US$500,000. The only comic considered more valuable is Action Comics No. 1, in which Superman makes his first appearance.

Stan Lee Interview on Podcast

An interesting podcast of an interview yesterday on Canada's State media network with the famous "Golden Age" comics artist Stan Lee.

An early, helpful and obvious (once you have heard it) point is that the evolution of graphic novel (as a concept) is driven by a decrease in the young readers of comics and a concomitant increase in the teen and adult readership.

This raises the question (raised and discussed in more than one quarter) of a cult of perpetuating adolescence into adulthood.

Lecture Summation

So, this week's lecture took a scholarly look at our first comic-book-cum-graphic novel, Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The first hour placed the book in the nested grid of themes and genre that Miller compresses into the title: to wit, a satire on contemporary television media, under the rubric "Returns" with in media term is synonym for (a.) financial profits and (b.) ratings; a satire on Left-wing or 'progressive' dogma on law and order issues relating to security of person and property, from the position of the medieval chivalric code invoked through the designation of the protagonist as a Knight-errant; and lastly a rejection of the gloriously junk-y Batman of golden-era comics and, of course, 1960s television, fame, denoted through the title's witty sense of it now being "a dark-and-stormy-night" and no longer the sunny escapism of Adam West and Burt Ward. (Me, I want my Adam West ....)

The second lecture hour submitted Miller's work to a close reading of pages, panels lines and even individual words, in order to see if the text can support the level of academic scrutiny that canonical texts in English Literature must bear. At the close of lecture, the result was that Miller's work had stood up, conditionally, to the close analysis.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

U2 Does Batman

Sorry, just because I love it..... Let's call it "Batman's reach in pop culture."
Click here>>>

"Deep Purple"

I found this delightful page illustrating the lyrics to the Mitchell Rose song "Deep Purple" that features prominently in Will Esiner's A Life Force.
It may help you to reflect upon the broad significance of Eisner's use of the song....

Monday, October 1, 2007

Video Games as Art?

À Propos our course thesis, this from the centre-left New York times via today's Arts & Letters Daily:

The Play’s the Thing
Published: September 28, 2007
Thirty-five years after Pong, fans and critics still debate whether video games can legitimately be called art. Certainly, whatever artistic potential that games have, few, if any, have fulfilled it. Halo 3 hasn’t changed that. Games boast ever richer and more realistic graphics, but this has actually inhibited their artistic growth. The ability to convincingly render any scene or environment has seduced game designers into thinking of visual features as the essence of the gaming experience.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Professor's Private Research Material

To add to the material already (a.) on our Course Reserves List and (b.) listed on the blog under Additional Research Material, I have both primary and secondary materials available for your projects. I have been under discussion over the best way of managing security for the use and storage of items, some of which are irreplaceable, and the resolution is as follows.

  1. Bennett Library Special Collections will make available for our class an impressive collection of individual comics, centred around, but not limited to, Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja.
  2. A collection of comics, graphic novels, and secondary material will be kept in my office and can be signed out privately in any office hour or special appointment. Catalogue includes:

(Girls) Manga Exhibition

I can't talk but I can type.....

An international touring exhibition of manga for girls, under the title "Shojo Manga! Girl Power!," is being held at the Nikkei Centre in Burnaby, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, British Columbia Canada. It would be a good idea for a field visit, but the facility is far too small. Any of the small seminar groups working with manga could find a visit fruitful.
Shojo Manga! Girl Power! is an internationally acclaimed exhibition of more than 200 artworks from 23 artists who have contributed to the phenomenon of modern manga in Japan. The Japanese Canadian National Museum is pleased to be the final venue for the exhibition’s successful tour of North America and the last chance for Canadians to see these superb examples of graphic art before the show heads to Japan. Designed by curator Dr. Masami Toku to raise issues of gender and representation, the exhibition explores the power of women's aspirations and dreams in contemporary Japanese culture. From its start in post-war era Japan as inexpensive youth entertainment influenced by American comics and Disney animation, to the current immense popularity of manga worldwide, this show traces the history of a medium at the intersection of evolving social roles and innovation in Japanese aesthetics.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cancellation this Week, and ....

Apologies for those who came up just for us: I have been fighting a heavy cold, and after a speaking through my four-hour Monday evening class I have woken up without a voice. Less fun than it might seem. I thought of coming up to organise Group Project work, but decided against the risk of infecting you all with my coughing & hacking. We'll miss this week's lecture & seminar and re-convene next Tuesday.
  • Please continue with the Reading Schedule as given: that is not effected. Bring Maus and The Contract With God to lecture next Tuesday.
  • Seminar presentations scheduled for this week will be given next week, along with those already scheduled.
  • The deadline for the Proposal of your major Seminar Group Evaluation Projects will be moved back one week. See the syllabus for the updated deadline. We will have some class time next week to work on this, but I recommend that you use your project blog to do work on this between now and then. You do have four hours free class time from this week, as it happens.
  • For the Seminar Presentations, please be sure to read carefully the criteria in the assignment posts, here and here (and in the permanent link list to the right on this blog.) The seminar presentation is you reading your choice of any one of your projects and leading a ten-minute seminar discussion based upon it. You are not being asked to do additional research or writing for the seminar presentation.

E-mail me with any questions or comments: I'm not going anywhere .....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Seminar Presentation Schedule

Here is the Schedule for the seminar presentations, both Individual and Small Groups.


September 18th: Jevon, Courtney
September 25th: Meena, Sonia
October 2nd: Patrick, Erin
October 9th: Lauren, Jennifer
October 16th: Crystal, Ann
October 23th: Emily, Juliet, Feducea
October 30th: Jason, Michael
November 6th: Joanna, Alice
November 13th: Melissa, Stephanie, Logan
November 20th: Neil, Caitlin
November 27th: Kristina, Emma

Small Group
October 16th: Logan, Caitlin, Neil, Melissa, Michael
October 23rd: Meena, Sonia, Alice, Kristina, Emma
October 30th: Juliet, Stephanie, Feducea, Jevon
November 6th: Emily, Joanna, Erin, Patrick, Courtney
November 20th: Jeniffer, Jason, Ann, Crystal, Lauren


September 27th: Ashleigh, Teresa
October 4th: Wendy, Joseph
October 11th: Yilun, Breanna
October 18th: Heather B, Caitlyn
October 25th: Sonia, Mary
November 1st: Elise, Sarah, Canadace
November 8th: Victoria, Michelle, Shane
November 15th: Kelvie, Heather WB
November 22nd: Shamez, Marcy, Darren
November 29th: Kal, Maja

Small Group
October 11th: Kal, Marcy, Maja, Joseph, Teresa
October 18th: Ashleigh, Sarah, Wendy, Breanna, Shamez
October 25th: Caitlyn, Heather B, Kelvie, Sonia, Yilun
November 1st: Heather WB, Elise, Michelle, Mary, Victoria


September 27th: Kathleen, Ben, Kevin G
October 4th: David K, Arti
October 11th: Bonnie, Kyle
October 18th: David H, Nathaniel
October 25th: Dan, Jessica, Jason
November 1st: Mike, Morgan, Samantha
November 8th: Jessica, Kevin T, Mikela
November 15th: Whitney, Cynthia, Heather
November 22th: Bronwyn, Karen

Small Groups
October 11th:
October 18th: Whitney, Jessica, Cynthia, Mike, Dan
October 25th: Jason, Karen, Mikela, Nathaniel, Arti
November 1st: David K, Bronwyn, David H
November 8th: Ben, Samantha, Kevin T, Kathleen, Kyle
November 15th:
November 22nd: Heather, Kevin G, Jessica, Morgan, Bonnie

Film & Graphic Novel

An interview with the director of the film version of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300, touching on subject such as the relation between G.N. and film, and the attempts to allegorise the story to contemporary events, is at, here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Art and non-Art

The indispensible Arts & Letters Daily has a Roger Scruton article today that treats of the question of objective value in for art in a way provocative for discussion.

A CENTURY AGO MARCEL DUCHAMP signed a urinal with the name "R. Mutt," entitled it "La Fontaine," and exhibited it as a work of art. One immediate result of Duchamp's joke was to precipitate an intellectual industry devoted to answering the question "What is art?" The literature of this industry is as empty as the neverending imitations of Duchamp's gesture. Nevertheless, it has left a residue of skepticism. If anything can count as art, then art ceases to have a point. All that is left is the curious but unfounded fact that some people like looking at some things, others like looking at others. As for the suggestion that there is an enterprise of criticism, which searches for objective values and lasting monuments to the human spirit, this is dismissed out of hand, as depending on a conception of the artwork that was washed down the drain of Duchamp's "fountain."

Seen in a Starbucks....

I saw a line on a VIFF poster at my Starbucks that I applied à propos distinction between comics and graphic novels, "It is acceptable to kiss during a "movie," but it is not so during a "film."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

From Seminar Week Two

In seminar last week, all three tutorials came up with lists, that I copied down on the blackboard, of objective critera distinguishing art from non-art. I would like to collate these and post them centrally, so those groups yet to email me from their notes please do so at your best early convenience.

Seminar Project Blogs

Should your seminar wish to use a blog to communicate casually withe ach other for the seminar project, here are the URLs for the three seminars again:
In order to have your post appear on the blog, it is simply necessary to email to the blog at the address below: no extra steps required. Note the send address for the email: there may have been a typographical error on the blackboard for one of the seminars last week.

On Bruno Bettelheim & the Holocaust

The book by Bettelheim, Bruno, The Informed Heart : Autonomy in a Mass Age, that I referenced in lecture has now been put on course reserve. Bettelheim, a child psychologist was imprisoned before WWII in Buchenwald and Dachau as an Austrian Jew. The Informed Heart is a study of human psychology under extreme conditions, and draws an astonishing force from the distance between the horrors of the events that he details (his own experience in the camps and his observation of fellow prisoners, the army guards, the Gestapo, and the SS in general) and the detached and analytical scholarly tone in which the book is set.

The passage that I refered to, in the context of the last panel on page 227 in Maus is as follows:
....the latrines themselves were usually nothing but a trench with logs on either side on which prisoners had to balance. Any public elimination was extremely degrading to Germans, because in Germany utter privacy when eliminating was the absolute rule, except for infants and small children .... Therefore, enforced observation of and by others was a demoralising experience.
I highly recommend the book as an indispensible analysis of not merely the details of the Nazi concetration camps, but of the psychology of the administrators, the guards and the prisoners: issue such as individualism, the fate of the hero, rationalisation of attitudes in both directions (e.g. helpless prisoners to all-powerful guards, and German guards to Jewish prisoners.) It is also a sustained argument against moral equivalancy: the extreme brutality and inhumanity of the Nazis a thesis.

Class Participation Anxiety Seminar

There is a seminar on overcoming anxiety about class participation on Wednesday, October 3rd from 1:30pm - 3:00pm at the W.A.C. Bennett Library, 7th floor, Room 7301. The poster with full description can be viewed here.

Recommended Text, no longer

This e-mail from the University Bookstore has the beneft of clarity if not helpfulness:
The publisher of the text, Manga Manga is on strike and nothing is leaving their warehouse.

... and what about T.P.?

Classfellow C.B. raises the important issue of Trade Paperbacks -- a industry term -- in relation to graphic novels. Her email is entirely self explanatory and, here again, is a case where engagement by the entire class is impelled.

I know we've been discussingthe differences between what makes a comic and what makes a graphic novel, but I was curious about another term. I know that comic shops make a point of also separating books into categories of comic mags and graphic novels. But they also make a point of dividing another section into TPs or trade paperbacks. What is the difference, then, between a TP and a graphic novel? I know from what I've seen that the shop puts Sandman and Batman "novels"in this section. Is it because they're from a "comic"-like background? Does this make them a higher or lower art form than graphic novels?

Classfellow on G.N. & Art

I appreciated very much the soundly empirical formulation of this engagement from classfellow K.S. with my "Blake & Potter" standard for 'Illustrated Books' artistry.

It sets a benchmark which, I am convinced, impells a broader engagement from the class as a whole.

My problem is this: The claim was "Comics, including Graphic Novels, have lower literary merit and stature than W. Blake and B. Potter." Our class argued that Comics and G.N.s have just as much literary merit and stature and then proceeded to site reasons as to why Comics/GNs should be considered a high art giving examples such as moral engagemnet, integration, complexity, emotional responsiveness and the such.

The problem I'm having is that the claim was for LITERARY MERIT and LITERARY STATURE not high art. I can't deny that Blake and Potter have high art as well as literary value (I've been told so by people I consider much smarter than me since the highschool grades and although I may not completely agree due with them, due to personal tastes, I can understand why the above mentioned authors places in high art and literature exist). This may all be a problem I'm having with semantics but graphic art is pictures and literary art is words. Although most scholars believe it is in bad taste to seperate Blake from his art and similarly Potter from hers it has been done in numerous anthologies, to the point where I didn't even know that "The Tyger" came with illustrations until second year of university. Likewise, in the North Anthology of Children's Literature, Potter's works are shown with a limited number of illustrations. These are stories and poems that can (even if they should not) stand alone without their artistic counterpart and still flow evenly and be very engaging. I'm doubting whether Comics and GN's can.

For example, remove the pictures from the section of MAUS (pg 201- ) which everyone decided refuted "The Claim" Time Flies... "Vladek died of congestive heart failure on August 18, 1982...Francoise and I stayed with him in the Catskills back in August 1979. Vladek started working as a tinman in Auschwitz in the spring of 1944...I started working on this page at the very end of February 1987... (skipping two frames here)...At least fifteen foreign editions are coming out. I've gotten 4 serious offers to turn my book into a T.V. special or movie. (I don't wanna) In May 1968 my mother killed herself. (She left no note.) Lately I've been feeling depressed." "Alright Mr. Spiegelman... We're ready to shoot!..."

It's a story just that, the place of high art is lost without the visual metaphor of humans wearing mice masks and emanicimated pile of mouse bodies. As is it's place of High Literaturee. It really doesn't shine a light to Blake pure poetry with just the GNs skeletal words showing. Now don't get me wrong, I do think Comics/GNs can be compared to and reside in the same category as masters such as Blake but I'm now skeptical on whether or not they get their based solely on their Literary Merit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Comics Terms

A useful glossary of terms and concepts for comics -- including the formal aspects -- is at this link.

The University of Dallas has this helpful page on design basics.

And you will get value from Anina Bennett's "Visual Language: Writing for Comics" - especially its use of McCloud's work.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Additional Research Material for Comics

My catalogue of course support texts is available to Engl 383 students to be signed out from my office.

There is a useful on-line Comics Research Bibliography helpful for materials which can be ordered through Inter-Library Loans.

In addition to the salient research material the university catalogue, there is this online volume of Comics as Philosophy, edited by Jeff McLaughlin (requires SFU proxy authentication.)

There is also Graphic Storytelling by Will Eisner, and the Comic Book Encyclopedia : the Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels, Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe by Ron Goulart, both available at our Surrey campus Reserves section.

An online portal for G.N. web research is supported through an Association of College & Research Libraries at ALA.

Definitional musings from illustrator Eddie Campbell, embedded elsewhere, are brought to the surface by classfellow N.K.: Mr. Campbell has a blog, The Fate of the Artist, (good for him) in which links to what he calls his manifesto.


Remember to bring your Spiegleman & Eisner texts to class this week, and to be on top of the assignment due dates: listed helpfully online on the syllabus.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Comics & Popular Music qua Literature

I hadn't thought about this until I started lectures in our course, but on the question of the literary status of comics, graphic novels, etc, I am experiencing a similarity toward them in my attitude toward popular music.

As I mentioned to one of the seminars, I believe, I am a rock music geek of decades-long standing: I am confident that I would past most tests of rock geekery -- indeed, I am a recovering rock snob. Furthermore, I have

Concentrating for now on the lyrical aspect of popular music, I believe there is beneficial justification for teaching it at university, within some broader context. Moreover I have two different courses draughted for upcoming semseters on just that. That being said, when I read Wordsworth, or Blake, or Vaughan, or a modern poet, say Canada's Margaret Avison, I recognise that I am in another universe of depth, resonance, ability, range, power, insight, intensity and sheer bloody Art.

Same, I think for the moment, for the literary aspect, mutatis mutandis, of comics.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Upcoming Conference on G.N. & Comics

Let me draw your attention to The New Narrative? Comics in Literature, Film, and Art: an interdisciplinary conference University of Toronto 9-11 May 2008. (Conference Poster at this link.) I note that the call for papers describes the conference as taking the academic and sceptical attitude to the claim for literary credibility to G.N., comics, etc.
Comics, whether in the form of novelistic illustrations, newspaper serials, animated films, film adaptations, graphic novels, or sequential art narratives, have been with us since the rise of literature itself, yet until recently such media have never been considered “serious”—or at least, serious enough to be considered novels that might be on university syllabi. However, with the recent rise of the graphic novel and related filmic adaptations, comics—otherwise generically grouped as “comix”—garnering considerable attention, are (yet again) being hailed as the “next big thing.” The (Canadian) publishing industry acknowledges that comix are the largest growth area: is the future now?
But are comix (sic) literature? Are they more than Saturday morning cartoons? Does the study of the genre belong in an art class? Are illustrated novels and live action films really about the pictures and not the narrative? How can the history of the form be reconciled with consumer culture and the ill-defined categories of “high” and “low” culture?

Student Commentary

A classfellow send along this commentary which seems spot on & perhaps more broadly stimulative.
I have been mulling over the question you posed to us at the end of tutorial last week with regard for what makes graphic novels good/literature. One of the issues I keep coming up against is the vocabulary we have been using for comic books versus graphic novels. Really I suppose your point is exactly this, that the phraseology of the medium is pure semantics, that when we (as a class) attempt to defend graphic novels we are, in fact, defending comic books (or condemning them as the case may be). As I mentioned in discussion, most of the artists or authors we are examining have had their work presented in serial format long before they started producing graphic novels. From this statement an important question arises vis a vis the medium's integrity: why did these artists decide to begin displaying their work in graphic novel format? Was/is it an attempt to bring some legitimacy to the medium, or is it simply a more practical format for presenting an extended work?

I have always found it interesting to come upon graphic novels that present existing works of literature (there are many graphic novelizations of Shakespeare's work as well as a great version of Tolkien's Hobbit) or historically accurate studies (From Hell). I wonder whether these collaborations/graphic interpretations are designed with a specific demographic in mind or whether they are an attempt to legitimize the medium.

If we were to take the example from the British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, where Rimmer is elated to discover that Lister is reading Shakespeare and dismayed to find that it is a comic book version, then we could assume that the general consensus is that these works (Shakespeare, Tolkien, et al.) should not be converted into graphic novels.

If there is a justification for the graphic novel as literature I believe it must come out of the quality of work irregardless of the artwork which must be secondary to the writing, that is not to say that the art work is not important but that without solid writing the pictures may mean very little.

Along with this quality there should be a level of social/political/economical/self-referential content, as there is in many great works of literature. These works should provide some level of contribution to the medium as a whole, as Miller's Dark Knight does with it's critique of the Batman character and the world of super heroes in general.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Maus" Lecture Week Upcoming

We got a solid grounding in the "graphic" component of the graphic novel -- well, solid for our purposes today -- and began our engagement with Maus as it demonstrated several of the concepts presented in lecture. Of course, we still have to get at full grip on Spiegelman's work (pointedly not using the term 'graphic novel', as yet unexamined in the case) which we shall do next week in lecture.

Do bring also your Eisner text, as the two do connect and we shall see how the time goes. I am best pleased that we have begun by successfully framing the literary, visual, and intellectual background in which graphic novels both are set and would like to be set by their advocates.

Seminar Group Evaluative Project.

The class as a whole will produce a compendium of work on the graphic novel, with the following three sections, each seminar contributing work on one:
  1. History of the graphic novel
  2. Form of the graphic novel
  3. Evaluation of the artistic merit of the graphic novel.

Each section will amount to fifteen hundred words per student or equivalent. Significant seminar time throughout the term will be designated for work of the project. The completed compendium will form the basis of a work that is suitable for publication. The project is open to include any form of work that qualifies as a graphic novel.

Small Group Written Research Presentations

In groups of four or five students set by the Intructor, deliver two written research projects over the course of the term, on a schedule of your choosing contracted in writing with the Instructor.
Update: each assignment is due in seminar.
  • Each will contain four hundred words of written work or equivalent per student.
  • Each project must be a cohesive whole: the format is open and can vary over the five assignments.
  • Projects project will analyse, evaluate and present a graphic novel, manga or comic in a specific social context.
  • Or, projects will detail the structure and effect of a formal aspect of a graphic novel, manga or comic: i.e. its visual, picture-plane, or verbal aspect.
  • The schedule must span a period of nine weeks, and no two projects may be scheduled on the same week.
  • All five presentations must be on a graphic novel, manga or comic not on the course required reading list.
  • One of the projects will be read by you as a presentation to the seminar and will form the basis of a ten-minute class discussion that you will lead

The essays can be creative in form, and will be judged on cohesiveness, explanatory effectiveness, creativity, and evenness of contribution across the group membership.

Individual Research Presentations

Deliver four brief research essays over the course of the term, on a schedule of your choosing contracted in writing with the Instructor.
Update: each assignment is due in seminar.
  • Each will be two hundred and fifty words in length.
  • The schedule must span a period of nine weeks, and no two essays may be scheduled on the same week.
  • Each will analyse and evaluate a putative literary quality of a graphic novel, manga or comic.
  • A minimum of three of the essays must treat of a primary course text; one may be on a text of your own chosing.
  • Include the bibliographic information, in MLA format, at the end of each essay.
  • One of the essays will be read by you as a presentation to the seminar and will form the basis of a ten-minute class discussion that you will lead

The essays will meet standards of scholarship, such as laid down in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th Edition), and will be graded on their content, structure, grammar and strength of research analysis.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Criteria by which comics are Junk, Glorious Junk

Here are the lists from the three seminars (well, two so far ....) of your suggested criteria by which comics can fairly be classified as junk. (Cf. Neil Postman: "the best things on television are its junk."

Tuesday morning:
- Comic books are comfort food.
- Comic books natively are not been -- have resisted being -- didactic.
- Comic books first just are junky.
- Published to a childish level of engagement.
- Socially recognizable as mass produced.
- Absence of artistic unity-closure, framing: non-monumental.
- Repetition of simplistic major and minor themes.
- Socially stratified as junk (ie: similar to Star Trek). Conventionsand collections.

Thursday afternoon:
--entertainment, solely
--pleasure, pure and simple
--instant gratification
--minimal reading requirements
--small amounts of time and capital are invested (doesn’t time = capital?)
--they are shallow, through and through—one reading, you got it all
--read primarily for escapism
--sensationalism (superheroes), repetitiveness (easy to define the good from the bad)
--marketed as junk
--found on 7-11 shelves
--static and mono-dimensional

Definitions of Literature

Some framing definitions of literature, which differentiate literature from non-literature: a framework for answering the research question "are graphic novels literature?"

Plato: “that which instructs by delighting.”
• Its character as mimesis forces on it a profound ontological alienation from true reality.
• Artistic mimesis addresses itself essential to the emotional, rather than the intellectual, aspect of the psyche.
Aristotle: that which pleases and sustains interest of the audience.
• Mimesis: fundamental part of human nature, from our desire to know. I.e. homo sapiens.
• hamartia (injury committed unknowingly) creates katharsis through the faculty of sympathy.
• peripateia (reversal of circumstance) – anagnorisis (recognition)
• so-called three unities.

Aquinas: that which serves the Good.

Dr. Johnson: that which endures; that which Time retains.
• "The reverence due to writings that have long subsisted arises therefore not from any credulous confidence in the superior wisdom of past ages, or gloomy persuasion of the degeneracy of mankind, but is the consequence of acknowledged and indubitable positions, that what has been longest known has been most considered, and what is most considered is best understood."

Ethnological: that which tells the story of a tribe, nation or civilisation.


1. Functionalist: that which works as literature: i.e. that people use as literature.
a. i.e. Publishing, Marketing.
2. Institutional: that which is taught as literature.
3. Canonical: that which contains and can perpetuate central, significant and eruditely-judged standards of literature.
4. Reductivist or Eliminativist: whatever is said to be literature.
5. Egotistical-Hedonistic: that which I like is literature.
6. Elitist: that which the cognoscenti read and write: that which is inaccessible to mass culture. (c.f. The Frankfurt School)
[ pretentiousness can unite 5 & 6….. ]
7. Formal: Acquaintance with ‘letters’ or books.
i. “letters” was the ability to read: hence, a social definition.
ii. Graphic Novels: “Written New Things”
. “graphic” a pleonasm?
. Illustrated literature with a plot, theme & character?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Maus - First GN to read

The reading list of the primary course texts will follow the order on the course outline. Maus by Art Spiegelman is thus first, and we will be working with that text starting next week. A useful webpage on Spiegelman from the American state radio network, NPR, is here. It includes audio clips of Spiegelman's recordings of the interviews with his father, depicted in the comic.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Required Text, Change to

Being informed last-minute that the manga Shakespeare is "unavailable", I substituted in the following: The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga. It will be in our Bookstore in due time.

If you have already purchased the manga Romeo & Juliet (as I did) you can still profitably use it for the course....or return it as your bent is.