Slavic R5B, Section 1: Graphic!: Selves, Communities, and Histories in Slavic Visual Storytelling

MWF 8-9, Dwinelle 250. Instructor: Antje Postema.

Units: 4

This course inquires into the fascinating cultural history of comics and graphic novels in East, Central, and Southeast Europe. In order to understand how the course’s primary texts fit within other cultural forms, students approach graphic novels as works of sequential art that rely on visual and verbal components to create meaning. Armed with a critical vocabulary, students investigate how graphic novels lodge overt and implicit political and cultural critiques. Throughout the semester, students will pay close attention to how the “popular medium” of the graphic novel reflects and refracts dominant cultural ideologies. The course is structured around texts representing a wide variety of subgenres, including graphic autobiography, diary comic, family saga, social history, fantasy, and science fiction.

This class will provide opportunities to develop three interrelated skills: critical reading, meaningful discussion, and clear academic writing. By the end of the semester, students will be comfortable analyzing a variety of texts with a careful eye for nuance and considering alternative viewpoints. Students will be expected to complete all assigned reading and come to class prepared to participate actively in class discussion. Writing assignments will include close readings of specific texts, reading responses, as well as three papers. Over the course of the semester, students will focus on all stages of the writing process: selecting an essay topic, crafting a thesis, developing and sustaining an argument, working with sources, structuring units of prose, editing and proofreading, word choice, sentence flow, and other topics in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Required Texts:

  1. Igor Baranko, Jihad (New York: Vintage, 1989). ISBN: 978-0679723394
  2. Nina Bunjevac. Fatherland (New York: Liveright, 2015). ISBN: 978-1631490316
  3. Viktoria Lomasko, Other Russias (London: Penguin, 2017). ISBN: 978-0997031843
  4. Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics (New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins, 1993). ISBN: 978-0060976255
  5. Joe Sacco, Safe Area Goražde (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2000). ISBN: 978-1560974703
  6. Marzena Sowa, Marzi: A Memoir (New York: Vertigo Comics, 2011). ISBN: 978-1401229597
  7. Art Spiegelman, Maus I: My Father Bleeds History (New York: Pantheon, 1986). ISBN: 978-0394747231

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.

Due to the high demand for R&C courses we monitor attendance very carefully. Attendance is mandatory the first two weeks of classes, this includes all enrolled and wait listed students. If you do not attend all classes the first two weeks you may be dropped. If you are attempting to add into this class during weeks 1 and 2 and did not attend the first day, you will be expected to attend all class meetings thereafter and, if space permits, you may be enrolled from the wait list.