ENGL 402 B1: Studies in Genres: Autobiographical Comics

Comics are not just for kids or subcultures anymore. Since Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for his two-volume graphic memoir Maus in 1992, what are now known as "graphic novels" have become one of the emergent forms of contemporary writing and design. In this course, we examine the archeology of autobiographical comics in particular as a documentary form from the American and Japanese comics traditions, in order to investigate its aesthetics and politics in contemporary comics by American and Canadian artists. We will deploy methods from book history in order to investigate the graphic novel (and the comic book) as a materialist form, and then look at the critical ecology of the graphic memoir in particular, and how it relates to the social issues of our time.


Lynda Barry, One! Hundred! Demons!

Art Spiegelman, Mauss I and II

Harvey Pekar, American Splendour

David Small, Stitches

Michael Yahgulanaas, Red: a Haida Manga

Craig Thompson, Blankets

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis I and II

Keiji Nakazawa, I Saw It: The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

Julie Doucet, My New York Diary