European Comics & Graphic Novels – Comparative Literature Summer Course 2017

COMPLIT 230: Literature and Society
Topic: European Comics & Graphic Novels

Instructor: Drago Momcilovic [momcilov@uwm.edu]
Class # 67700 Lec 201 / GER [HU]  / 3 cr / U/ ONLINE
Special 8-Week Session
Dates: June 26–August 19, 2017

From the comic strip to the comic book and graphic novel, the cartoon arts have quickly become one of the most important types of storytelling in the modern world, particularly in Europe.  European comics have exploded and diversified into different genres and forms–including Hergé’s Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées about boy hero Tin Tin, Alan Moore’s dystopic sci-fi sagas about totalitarianism in 1980s Britain, and Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoirs about exile and trauma.  Clearly, European comics and graphic novels have quickly evolved from their 19th-century roots in caricature to become some of the world’s most innovative and gripping meditations on European identity, community, history, and artistry.  In this online course, we will trace the intellectual, cultural, social and historical dimensions of modern European life, as reflected in comics; we will also look at the development of European comics as a literary culture of its own and study key texts from philosophical, literary, visual and historical perspectives.  Our tentative texts will include the earliest “picture stories” by 19th-century Swiss master Rodolphe Töpffer and short visual novels by Flemish artist Frans Masereel; youth-oriented adventure tales from Europe’s “golden age” like Hergé’s Tin Tin in the Land of the Soviets, Peyo’s Smurf comics, and Hugo Pratt’s Italian sea-faring adventure Corto Maltese; and modern blockbusters like Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Jacques Tardi’s World War I masterpiece It Was the War of the Trenches.