ENGL 356
Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora Spring 2021
Division I
Cross-listed AMST 323 / COMP 322 / ARTH 223 / AFR 323
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course explores how the graphic novel has been an effective, provocative and at times controversial medium for representing racialized histories. Drawing on graphic novels such as the late Congressman John Lewis’ March and Ebony Flowers’ Hot Comb, this course illustrates and critiques multiple ways the graphic novel commingles word and image to create more sensorial access into ethnic traumas, challenges and interventions in critical moments of resistance throughout history. Students will practice analyzing graphic novels with the help of critical essays, reviews and film; the chosen texts will center on Africana cultures, prompting students to consider how the graphic novel may act as a useful alternate history for marginalized peoples. During the course, students will build comic creation and analysis skills through short exercises, eventually building up to the final project of a graphic short story that illustrates historical and/or autobiographical narratives. No art experience is required, only an openness to expanding one’s visual awareness and composition skills. This course is often taught in collaboration with the Williams College Museum of Art’s Object Lab program, which allows the class to have its own space and art objects that are directly related to the course topic. Although it is a remote course this year, this class may still feature Object Lab participation, film screenings, and collaborations with guest speakers.
The Class: Format: seminar; This is a remote class that will primarily feature synchronous sessions with some asynchronous sessions.
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 4656
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, written responses, student-led facilitation, one 3-page graphic analysis, one 6- to 8-page essay, and a final project (producing a graphic short story)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: If the enrollment limit is exceeded, preference will be given to Africana Studies concentrators or students who have taken AFR 200, the department's introductory course.
Unit Notes: this course is part of the Gaudino Danger Initiative
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 356 Division I AMST 323 Division II COMP 322 Division I ARTH 223 Division I AFR 323 Division II
Attributes: AFR Core Electives
AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
GBST Borders, Exiles + Diaspora Studies Electives

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