Sep 22nd 2014

Comic Books and Graphic Novels (Coursera)

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Comic books have arrived! "Comic Books and Graphic Novels" presents a survey of the comic book canon and of the major graphic novels in circulation today. Its governing question is simple: by what terms can we discuss comic books as literary art? In pursuit of that question it develops a theory of literary reading and time itself.

The comic book pamphlet developed as an independent literary form in the 1930s and early 1940s and has been a favorite of adolescent enthusiasts and cult devotees ever since. Recently, it has entered into a process of transformation, moving from a species of pulp fiction on the margins of children’s literature to an autonomous genre, one Will Eisner labeled the graphic novel. This transformation has been noted in such literary venues as the New York Times and the New Yorker, as well as in an increasing number of university classrooms and bookstore shelves.

“Comic Books and Graphic Novels” presents a survey of the history of American comics and a review of major graphic novels circulating in the U. S. today. It is focused on three main points. First, it argues that as comics develop in concert with, and participate in literary culture, they should be considered literature. Second, it reasons that such a designation forces us to redefine our concept of literature itself. Finally, it explores this transformative literary world by arguing that comics have much to teach us about ourselves.

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