School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 518 Outline

LIS: 518 Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries
Course Outline

Spring 2016


Instructor: Gail de Vos
Phone: 1-780-797-3949

Office: online only
Office hours
: variable


Calendar Description: Examines the history and contemporary reality of comic book publishing and readership in Canada, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States and issues related to perception of the format by educators, librarians, and readers. Focus on collection development, censorship concerns and challenges, gender issues in readership and in content, genres, and impact of the Internet.


Course Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, a student should [be able to] …..
1. Appreciate the diversity and potential of the comic book and graphic novel format.
2. Understand comic books and graphic novels as a unique medium of communication and storytelling
3. Assess the role of comic books and graphic novels in western and Japanese society and culture
4. Evaluate published works
5. Be familiar with Internet resources that incorporate comic books and graphic novels
6. Prepared to select and maintain a comic book and graphic library collection in a school or public library.

Measurable Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

  • After critical reading and reflection of examples of comics and graphic novels, students will articulate the complexities of reading, evaluating, selecting and maintaining a viable collection, and challenges through required regular participation in a discussion forum.
  • After examination of intellectual freedom in regards to comic books and graphic novels in libraries, in tandem with required course seminars, students will critically analyze trends, practices, challenges, threats, history, research and key resources for Canadian (and other) libraries.
  • After exposure to diverse media coverage on the various aspects of comic book and graphic novels within or without library collections, students will understand the complexity in objectivity, perception and awareness of the comic book format in all types of libraries.


This course examines the public perception of the comic book format, history of the comic book, mechanics of the format, genres and themes, the role of comic books and graphic novels in popular culture and libraries along with the continual evolution of the format.


Required and supplementary readings, module activities, lecturing, group discussion, seminars and regular examination of media coverage will be part of this course.

Course Relationships:

Pre-requisite: LIS 501 (or permission of instructor).

Required Texts:

Bell, Cece. 2014. El Deafo. Harry N. Abrams

Hicks, Faith Erin. 2012. Friends with Boys. First Second.

LaBoucane-Benson. 2015. The Outside Circle. House of Anansi.

Lemire, Jeff. 2009. Essex County. Top Shelf.                          

McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics. (any edition)

Nicholson, Hope, ed. 2015. Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Vol. 1. Alternate History Comics.

Runton, Andy. 2004. Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer. Top Shelf.

Satrapi. Marjane. 2003. Persepolis. Pantheon.

Stevenson, Noelle and Grace Ellis. 2015. Lumberjanes Vol. 1. Boom

Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. 2014. This One Summer. Groundwood/ First Second

Tan, Shaun. 2006. The Arrival. Arthur A. Levine Books.

Vaughn, Brian and Fiona Staples. 2012. Saga, Vol 1. Image.

Wilson, G. Willow. 2014. Ms. Marvel: No Normal Vol.1. Marvel


  • Any recent superhero title of your choice.
  • Any recent manga title of your choice


Assignments and Weighting:


There is no examination for this course. A 10% penalty for lateness per day will be enforced for all assignments. Students have until midnight to post their assignments on the course site on the due date. Raw scores (marks on assignments) are totalled at the end of the course and converted to University of Alberta’s letter grading scale.
I. Virtual Seminar 25%
II. Read and Reacts (3 x 5%) 15%
III. Intellectual Freedom and Comics 20%
IV. Final Project 25%
V. Class Participation 15% 

School of Library and Information Studies Grading Statement:

Grades reflect professional judgements of student achievement made by instructors. These judgements are based on a combination of absolute achievement and relative performance in class. The instructor should mark in terms of raw scores, rank the assignments in order of merit, and with due attention to the verbal descriptions of the various grades, assign an appropriate final letter grade.


Academic Integrity:

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Students should also be mindful of the SLIS Copyright Policy.


Inclusive Language and Equity:

The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of respect for all people within the university community and to educating faculty, staff, and students in developing teaching and learning contexts that are welcoming to all. The Faculty recommends that students and staff use inclusive language to create a classroom atmosphere in which students’ experiences and views are treated with equal respect and value in relation to their gender, racial background, sexual orientation and ethnic background. Students who require accommodations in this course due to a disability affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning, or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support and Disability Services.


Recording of Lectures:

Recording of lectures is permitted only with the prior written consent of the professor or if recording is part of an approved accommodation plan.

Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.