ELCSG012 - Sequential Art as a Form of Engagement

Value: 30 credits
Tutor: Dr Cristina Massaccesi
Teaching structure: The module will begin with a brief outline of the history of sequential art. Lectures and seminars will offer approaches to analyse and discuss a large number of themes such as autobiographical elements, social protest, human relationships, environmental concerns and historical events by considering examples from a range of European, American, Middle-Eastern and Japanese graphic novels.
Assessment: 5,000 word essay.

Module Description:

In their book The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore point out that ‘societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication’. This attitude has influenced strongly the perception of sequential art and graphic storytelling that, penalised by their colourful and pictorial format, have been normally connected to simple and escapist contents.

The aim of this module will be to present to students examples of sequential art narratives characterised by a deep social and political engagement. At the same time it will provide them with a methodology for analysing and understanding the narrative processes behind graphic storytelling and how these processes compare and contrast with those of traditional narrative and/or cinema.
Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Alan Moore, Watchmen, 1987
  • Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira, 1990
  • Art Spiegelman, Maus, 1991
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis, 2000
  • Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir, 2009

Initial Secondary Bibliography:

  • Umberto Eco, Apocalypse Postponed, 1995
  • Will Eisner, Comics and Sequential Art, 1985
  • Will Eisner, Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative, 1996
  • Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics, 1993
  • Marshall MacLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964
  • Marshall MacLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage, 1967