The Graphic Novel

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The Graphic Novel
Writing Course
Course CodeGNOV
Year Opened2007
Sites OfferedHAV
Previously OfferedCAL, EST, SCZ
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Course Description

From the CTY Summer Catalog:

One of the most innovative literary forms of recent years, the graphic novel uses a combination of words and sequential art to convey a narrative. With characters like the Filipina-American narrator in Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons, the Bosnian survivors in Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Goražde, and the AIDS educator in Judd Winick’s Pedro and Me, the graphic novel has become a significant medium for tackling a wide range of historical, social, and political issues. In this writing-intensive course, students discover how graphic novels use words and images to expand traditional narrative structures and conventions.

By examining literary techniques such as tone, flashback, and characterization, as well as visual elements such as framing, shading, and perspective, students analyze how artists and writers marry visual art and literature. Using a text such as Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics to guide them, students learn the particulars of the genre before proceeding to more advanced critical analysis. For example, students might examine Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ politicized deconstruction of superheroes in Watchmen, or they may discuss the use of extended metaphor in Art Spiegelman’s treatment of the Holocaust in Maus.

Throughout the session, students apply their knowledge of the graphic novel in formal critical essays and in creative pieces that explore techniques of sequential art, such as layout and plot breakdowns.

Note: This course includes some controversial material; it is recommended for students who have completed ninth grade or higher.

Course Instagram

Student work from GNOV at Haverford can be found on @graphicnovelcty on Instagram.