Selkirk offers graphic novels course

The course will be taught at the Tenth Street Campus starting next month.

Selkirk College professor Renee Jackson-Harper is bringing a graphic novels course to students in January.

Selkirk College professor Renee Jackson-Harper is bringing a graphic novels course to students in January.

Once condemned as a dangerous force of moral degradation, comics and graphic novels have come to be recognized as important cultural texts.

“I’ve always been interested in popular culture as an expression of our deepest desires,” said Nelson professor Renée Jackson-Harper. “Graphic novels like Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and David B’s Epileptic, have stayed with me since I first encountered them, and I have continued to return to the big questions they raise about what drives us as individuals and as society.”

Jackson-Harper will teach English 111 at Selkirk College’s Tenth Street Campus starting January 9. The class will run Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. The intro-level literature course is fully transferable as three credits for first-year English. Subtitled Drawn & Dangerous – Graphic Imaginations, the class will examine texts that take the form of visual narratives and poetry.

Topics of discussion will include adaptation, transmedia storytelling and graphic fiction and poetics as powerful platforms for social critique.

“There is something incredibly powerful about marrying images with words in order to tell a story,” said Jackson-Harper. “Perhaps it’s because we often associate comics with juvenile narratives that seeing grown-up themes [the Holocaust and childhood traumas] drawn in panels is so starling and compelling. It’s the tension that often exists between the words and the images on the pages that keeps me returning for more.”

Along with critical essays and movie adaptations, students will examine several primary texts including Watchmen, Maus, Fun Home, X and March. Students will also learn how to write about sequential graphic narratives, have an opportunity to experiment with the form and examine adaptation of famous literary text, like Homer’s Odyssey, into the genre.

Jackson-Harper feels the class would appeal to a wide range of students, including those who are interested in making their own graphic novel, those who have long loved graphic fiction and students who love literature and the multitude of forms it takes.

“Whatever it is that brings students to the classroom, I’m certain that the discussion will be lively and challenging. I can’t wait!” said Jackson-Harper.

Successful completion of English 110 is the usual prerequisite but students may be granted permission to enroll by contacting the instructor at rjacksonharper@selkirk.ca.