The Graphic Novel - ENGL7170

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module focuses on the exploration of the graphic novel as a visual and literary medium. The module will interpret the term ‘graphic novel’ broadly, and incorporate discussions of comic books, political cartoons, as well as film and television adaptations as a part of its curriculum. The module will begin with an examination of the more mature aesthetic that became increasingly popular for graphic novels during the late 1980s, and examine how these developments have continued to evolve to the present day. Strong emphasis will be placed on readings informed by sociological and political discourses. Students will be encouraged to relate their close analysis of texts to topics such as the distinctions between art and popular culture, and the connections between literary and social history, as well as contemporary concerns such as identity politics, neo-liberal capitalism, protest, and anarchy. As such, the module will demonstrate how the study of graphic novels directly relates to several key concerns in the study of undergraduate English.


Contact hours

Ten 2-hour weekly seminars and ten 1-hour weekly lectures/workshop sessions

Method of assessment

100% coursework: seminar performance (10%), two essays, 3000 words each (45% for each essay, thus constituting 90% of the final mark)

Indicative reading

Primary reading

Bechdel, A. 2006. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. London: Jonathan Cape
Evans, K. 2015. Red Rosa. London: Verso
Kirkman, R. et al, 2010. The Walking Dead. Berkeley: Image Comics
Miller, F. & Johnson, K. 2006 The Dark Knight Returns. New York: DC Comics
Moore, A. & Gibbons, D., 1996. The Watchmen. New York: DC Comics
Satrapi, M. 2008 Persepolis. London: Vintage

Secondary reading

Delany, S. R. 1999. Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts & the Politics of the Paraliterary. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press.
McCloud, S. 2001. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: HarperPerennial
Wolk, T. 2007. Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What they mean. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following subject specific learning outcomes:

• Demonstrate an ability to study and critically respond to a range of graphic novels published between 1980s and the present day.
• Relate their reading to developments and debates within wider social, political and historical contexts.
• Explore and analyse a range of theoretical approaches to graphic novels, both in terms of their literary and visual qualities.
• Critically consider and reflect upon the interrelationship of cultural trends and political discourses in graphic novels, as well as film and television adaptations.
• Show an enhanced understanding of structures and conventions in graphic novels and their adaptations.
• Investigate and question the boundaries between art and popular culture in the context of the 20th and 21st centuries.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following generic learning outcomes:

• Apply critical reading skills, both in terms of close textual analysis and comparative studies, across a wide range of interdisciplinary materials.
• Demonstrate clear and precise presentation skills, as well as an ability to participate actively and constructively in group discussions.
• Display a heightened ability to conduct individual research, including the ability to analyse, discuss and deploy secondary texts (both critical and theoretical) from appropriate scholarly resources.
• Identify and evaluate relevant research questions and to develop clear, reasoned and original arguments.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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