English 5664

Comics, History & Time

Wed 9:10-12:10

Sullivant 205

office hours: by appointment 

jared-gardner.youcanbook.me or gardner.236@osu.edu

R= Reading | SR=Supplementary Reading | C=Carmen

Week 1

W 1/9


R: Week 1 Selections (Richard McGuire, “Here” (1989); Chris Ware, “I Guess” (1991); from Art Spiegelman, Maus, chapter 5; Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, Watchmen, chapter 4; Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons, “Cicadas”; Kevin Spiegelman, from Ganges #1) [C]; Mikkonen, “Time in Comics” [C]; McCloud, Chapter 3 & 4 from Understanding Comics [C]

SR: Gardner, “Serial/Simultaneous” [C]; Drohan, “A Timely Encounter. Dr. Manhattan and Henri Bergson" [C]

Week 2

W 1/16

R: Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell, From Hell (1989-96; 1999) [U]


SR: Ali, “The Violence of Criticism: The Mutilation and Exhibition of History in From Hell [C]; Bernard & Carter, “Alan Moore and the Graphic Novel: Confronting the Fourth Dimension”; Diliddo, “Chronotopes: Outer Space, the Cityscape, and the Space of Comics” [C]; Hinton, “What is the Fourth Dimension?” (1884) [C]

Week 3

W 1/23

R: Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan (1995-2000)

SR: Banita, “Chris Ware and the Pursuit of Slowness” [C]; Gilmore, “Public and Private Histories in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan” [C]; Bredehoft, “Comics Architecture, Multidimensionality, and Time” [C]

Week 4

W 1/30

R: Kyle Baker, Nat Turner (2005-07, 2008)

Excerpts from Marcelo d'Salete, Run For It: Stories Of Slaves Who Fought For Their Freedom (2014; 2017) [C]


SR: Gray, “‘Commence the Great Work’: The Historical Archive and Unspeakable Violence in Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner” [C]; Chaney, “Slave Memory Without Words in Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner” [C]; Francis, “Drawing the Unspeakable” [C]; The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831)

Week 5

W 2/6

R: Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza (2009)

SR: Chute, “History and the Visible in Joe Sacco” (234-54) [C];  Leichter, “Entangled Memories and Received Histories: Reading Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza” [C]; Shay, “Framing Refugee Time: Perpetuated Regression in Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza” [C]; Gardner, “Time Under Siege” [C]

Week 6

W 2/13

R: Sonny Liew, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (2015)

SR: Holden, “‘Is it manipulative? Sure. But that’s how you tell stories’: The Graphic Novel, Metahistory and the Artist in The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye” [C]; Gardner, “Storylines” [C]

Week 7

W 2/20

R: Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother? (2012)

(review Fun Home)

SR: Bauer, “Vital Lines Drawn From Books: Difficult Feelings in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Are You My Mother?” [C]; Barounis, “Alison Bechdel and Crip-Feminist Autobiography” [C]; “‘Posing for all the characters in the book’: the Multimodal Processes of Production in Alison Bechdel’s Relational Autobiography Are You My Mother?” [C]

Week 8

W 2/27

R: Una, Becoming Unbecoming (2015)

SR: Appleton & Mallan, “Filling the Silence: Giving Voice to Gender Violence in Una’s Graphic Novel Becoming Unbecoming” [C]; Donovan & Ustundag, “Graphic Narratives, Trauma and Social Justice” [C]; Marshall, “Final Lessons: Reading Like a Girl” [C];

Week 9

W 3/6

R: Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (2013)

(review American Born Chinese)

SR: Caroline Kyungah Hong, “Teaching History through and as Asian/American Popular Culture in Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints” [C];

Earle, “‘The Sky Is Darkened by Gods’: Spirituality, Strength, and Violence in Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints” [C]


Week 10

W 4/3

R: Gilbert Hernandez, Julio’s Day (2001-07; 2013) & select Palomar stories [U]

Moore, “How About Love: Gilbert Hernandez’s ‘Julio’s Day’’ (review essay) [C]; de Souza, “Comic-Chronotope in Julio’s Day: Gilbert Hernandez’s Explorations of the Form-shaping Ideologies of the Medium” [C]

Week 11

W 3/27

R: Jason Lutes, Berlin (1996-2018)

Kavoloski, “The Weimar Republic Redux Multiperspectival History in Jason Lutes’ Berlin City of Stones” [C]; Enns, “The City as Archive in Jason Lutes’s Berlin” [C]; Etter. “The ‘Big Picture’ as a Multitude of Fragments: Jason Lutes’s Depiction of Weimar Republic Berlin” [C]

Week 12

W 3/6

R: Nora Krug, Belonging (2018)

Week 13

W 4/10

R: Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do (2017)

Week 14

W 4/17

R: Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing is Monsters (2017)

T 4/30

Final Paper due


The following are required for class (ebook versions are ok, as are library copies if you can find them, but you must have the book—or a device with the ebook—in the class when it is scheduled.

We will have online access to Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell’s From Hell via the Library’s subscription to the Underground and Independent Comics database, but it is a long and dense book so you might wish to acquire a copy: (TopShelf) 978-0958578349.

Gilbert Hernandez’s Julio’s Day is currently out of print, but fortunately we have access to the serialized Hernandez Brother’s Love & Rockets via the Underground and Independent Comics database. For those interested in the history of Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomor, the first two volumes devoted to the Palomar stories in the current Love & Rockets reprints will get you up to speed: Heartbreak Soup: The Love & Rockets Library - Palomar Book 1 & Human Diastrophism: The Love & Rockets Library - Palomar Book 2. But like From Hell, this is totally optional and we will have access to the stories online.

You might also find helpful having the following at hand throughout the semester:

Before class begins everyone should have read the following five titles as we will be referencing them from time to time throughout the semester (they are all available in the “guttergeek” browsing library in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library’s reading room, and I will also put additional copies on class reserves in the reading room) :

Many other examples of comics engaged with various exeriments with representing and/or navigating time and history will be discussed throughout the semester and we will keep a running bibliography of these throughout the semester.


a. readings

We will be reading extensively in contemporary graphic narrative, as well as in comics studies, with some narratology, trauma studies, graphic medicine, autobiography, philosophy of time, and other stuff thrown in the mix.  All readings marked “R” on the syllabus are to be completed for the class in which they are scheduled.

Most weeks in the first two thirds of the semester also have supplementary reading, marked “SR.” Grad students are expected to read at least one of the supplementary readings each week (see “writing/presentations” below). For undergrads the supplementary reading is optional. All of the essays are accessible at the class’s Carmen site, unless a weblink is available on the syllabus..

Throughout the semester in the Carmen threaded discussions for each week I will provide access additional materials—primary and secondary—that is of course completely optional, but will be available if the topic holds particular interest for you now or down the road while working on final projects.

b. writing/presentations

Everyone will be writing two papers (for undergraduates, 1 4-5 pages and 1 5-7 pages; for graduate students: 1 6-9 paper (conference-length) and a final 12-20 page paper. Detailed instructions and discussion of the expectations for each paper will be given 3 weeks before each paper’s due date. Creative options for the final paper will be available—please discuss ideas with me.

Everyone will be expected to publish to Carmen ahead of our class substantive posts engaging with the primary and/or secondary reading. A "substantive post" is 1-3 paragraphs of developed prose, with thoughtful questions and/or insights designed to spark conversation (substantive replies to the posts of classmates also count, so long as they address, for grad students, both the primary and at least one piece of supplementary reading for that week. The expectations are as follows:

Carmen discussions can of course also of course be used for more casual conversation in addition to this semi-formal expectation, and such informal discussion will also count towards participation (see below).

c. discussion/participation

Though large, this is a seminar class in which we are working collaboratively from our varied perspectives, experiences, and insights to answer some of the big challenges involved in this emerging field. Discussion will be a required component of the class. While I will give mini-lectures here and there (especially early on) to provide some history and background, or to lay out some new theoretical problem for us to work through, the bulk of the work we will be doing together. Toward that end, you will need to come each day with notes, questions, insights--and energy to share all of the above. You are all expected to have read the Carmen posts of your classmates in addition to the assigned readings for the day’s class, coming prepared with questions and ideas about both

In lieu of quizzes and exams, I will be relying on participation in class and on Carmen discussion threads (both formal, substantive posts and more casual conversation) to get a sense of individual student’s active engagement.

e. attendance 

Given the pace of our readings and the collaborative nature of our work (not to mention the fact that we only meet once a week), a strict attendance policy will be enforced. More than two absences  will negatively affect your final grade by a half-letter grade for each absence over two.

f. grading

The rough formula for the class is:

papers=30% & 40%, participation/attendance (including Carmen)=30%

g. graduating seniors 

Graduating seniors will have the same paper deadline at the end of the course as the rest of the class.

h. accessibility

The University strives to make all learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience academic barriers based on your disability (including mental health, chronic, or temporary medical conditions), please register with Student Life Disability Services so we may establish reasonable accommodations.  After registration, make arrangements with me as soon as possible to discuss your accommodations so that they may be implemented in a timely fashion. SLDS contact information: slds@osu.edu; 614-292-3307; ods.osu.edu; 098 Baker Hall, 113 W. 12th Avenue.

h. mental health services

Students may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student’s ability to participate in daily activities. The Ohio State University offers services to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. If you or someone you know are suffering from any of the aforementioned conditions, you can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) by visiting ccs.osu.edu or calling 614-292-5766. CCS is located on the 4th Floor of the Younkin Success Center and 10th Floor of Lincoln Tower. You can reach an on call counselor when CCS is closed at 614-292-5766 and 24 hour emergency help is also available through the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

i. academic misconduct and plagiarism

It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic misconduct. The term “academic misconduct” includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed; illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487). For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct.