Violence, Politics, and the Graphic Novel

R1B (Section 1) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation
Spring 2015
A. Gabel


JODOROWSKY and MOEBIUS The Incal (1981-1989) Jacques LOB and Jean-Marc ROCHETTE Snow Piercer: The Escape and Snow Piercer: The Explorers (1982-1983) Art SPIEGELMAN Maus (1991) Jacques TARDI Tardi’s WWI: It was the War of the Trenches (1993) / Goddamn This War (2008-9) Marjane SATRAPI The Complete Persepolis (2000-3) Guy DELISLE Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (2003) June MAROH Blue is the Warmest Color (2010) Required Course Reader

Course Description:

In this course, we will analyze the graphic novel as an emerging media for the representation of history and violence. We will investigate how this form, an amalgam of both image and text, has arisen from earlier genres, from 16th-century image poems called emblèmes to  late 19th- and early-20th-century experimentations in visual poetry (like Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés or Apollinaire’s Calligrammes), from early caricatures, illustrations, and political cartoons (like those of Gustave Doré and Nadar) to overtly propagandistic 20th-century cartoons and classic children’s comic books (like Tintin, Astérix, and Heavy Metal). In tandem, we will also consider politicized 19th-century paintings by Manet, Delacroix and others as well as a little 20th- and 21st-century French animation, in order to ask ourselves how graphic novels as an emerging medium both take on and subvert the stylistics and social codes performed by earlier image or image-text forms. Of special interest to us will be a discussion of why it is that in recent decades the graphic novel has proven itself to be a particularly apt form for the investigation of violent, socio-political events, such as the First or Second World War or the Iranian Revolution. While we will consider a few, seminal English-language texts, we will ask ourselves why has this been a preferred format of expression for French and Francophone authors and artists, particularly in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. What about the graphic novel, in spite of or indeed due to its roots in popular culture and children’s literature, resonates with these authors as a means of representing history? What does this genre have to offer for the critique of deeply ingrained, socio-historical violence, like xenophobia and homophobia? In short, why and how has the graphic novel become a political form?

Additional information: French R1B satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement. Classes are conducted in ENGLISH.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes