Graphic Novels: the invisible art
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: n/a
Effective: Winter 2019
Prerequisites: N/A
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: n/a

Program(s): General Education
Program Coordinator(s): Sarah Sinclair
Course Leader or Contact: Peter Grevstad
Version: 20190107_01
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: n/a

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
In this hybrid course, students will investigate the rise of the graphic novel in the 20th Century. Students will consider the history of the genre, and explore how graphic novels reflect and represent diverse social, political and popular cultures. This course explores 'the invisible art' through the works of renowned writers and graphic artists. Students will also compare graphic novels with their film adaptations. Through selected novels, students will also explore historical and social phenomena, such as the Iranian revolution and the Holocaust during World War II. In addition, students will consider the figure of the hero in the 20th Century, and investigate how the character and representation of the hero change in response to social conditions. Through readings, quizzes, online discussions and research activities, students will examine and analyze the diversity of styles in the genre, as well as connect with important historical and social issues from the last and the present centuries.

Program Context

General Education Program Coordinator(s): Sarah Sinclair
This course is part of the General Education curriculum which is designed to contribute to the development of the student's consciousness of the diversity, complexity, and richness of the human experience; their ability to establish meaning through this consciousness; and, as a result, their ability to contribute thoughtfully, creatively, and positively to the society in which they live and work. General Education courses strengthen students' generic skills, such as critical analysis, problem solving, and communication, in the context of an exploration of topics with broad-based personal and/or societal importance.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course, students will have demonstrated the ability to describe the technical characteristics of graphic novels, for investigation into historical and social issues in the Twentieth Century.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Analyze comics and graphic novels using the vocabulary for the genre.
  2. Evaluate idea/purpose, form, idiom, structure, craft and surface in graphic novels.
  3. Compare a graphic novel with a traditional work of Western literature.
  4. Research historical events in the Twentieth Century.
  5. Write short research papers on the themes and social and political contexts of selected graphic novels.
  6. Describe the figures of the hero, and the modern superhero.
  7. Compare a graphic novel with a film adaptation.
  8. Investigate the colonial history of Residential Schools in Canada.
  9. Utilize the six steps to create a collaborative comic.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Three online quizzes (3 @ 10%)30.0%
 Group Presentation (1 @ 10%)10.0%
 Essays (2 @ 20%)40.0%
 Collaborative Assignment20.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:
TEST AND ASSIGNMENT PROTOCOL To encourage behaviours that will help students to be successful in the workplace and to ensure that students receive credit for their individual work, the following rules apply to every course offered within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. 1. Students are responsible for staying abreast of test dates and times, as well as due dates and any special instructions for submitting assignments and projects as supplied to the class by the professor. 2. Students must write all tests at the specified times. Missed tests, in-class activities, assignments and presentations are awarded a mark of zero. If an extension or make-up opportunity is approved by the professor as outlined below, the mark of zero may be revised by subsequent performance. The penalty for late submission of written assignments is a loss of 10% per day for up to five business days (excluding weekends and statutory holidays), after which, a grade of zero is assigned. Business days include any day that the college is open for business, whether the student has scheduled classes that day or not. 3. Students, who miss a test or in-class activity or assignment or fail to submit an assignment on time due to exceptional circumstances, are required to notify their professor in advance of the class whenever possible. A make-up test may be supplied for students who provide an acceptable explanation of their absence and/or acceptable documentation explaining their absence (e.g., a medical certificate). All make-up tests are to be written at a time and place specified by the professor upon the student's return. Alternately, students may be given an opportunity to earn the associated marks by having a subsequent test count for the additional marks. Exceptional circumstances may result in a modification of due dates for assignments. 4. Unless otherwise specified, assignments and projects must be submitted at the beginning of class. 5. Students must complete every assignment as an individual effort unless, the professor specifies otherwise. 6. Since there may be instances of grade appeal or questions regarding the timely completion of assignments and/or extent of individual effort, etc., students are strongly advised to keep, and make available to their professor, if requested, a copy of all assignments and working notes until the course grade has been finalized. 7. There will be no resubmission of work unless this has been previously agreed to or suggested by the professor. 8. Students must submit all assignments in courses with practical lab and field components in order to pass the course.

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Essential Employability Skills
Essential Employability Skills emphasized in the course:

  • Communication Skills - Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken, visual form that fulfills the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.
  • Communication Skills - Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving - Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills - Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.
  • Information Management - Locate, select, organize and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.
  • Information Management Skills - Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.
  • Interpersonal Skills - Show respect for the diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.
  • Interpersonal Skills - Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.
  • Personal Skills - Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.
  • Personal Skills - Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

General Education
This General Education course relates to the following themes as specified by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

  • Arts In Society
  • Social and Cultural Understanding

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar
Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous relevant work/life experience, service, self-study and training on the job. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):

  • Portfolio
  • Interview

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: In-class & Online Instruction
Professor: Multiple Professors
RequiredTextbookUnderstanding Comics, Scott McCloud, HarperPerennial, ISBN 0-06-097625-X, 1994
RequiredTextbookBatman: Year One, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, DC Comics, 978-1-4012-0752-6, 2005
RequiredTextbookV for Vendetta, Allen Moore and David Lloyd, Vertigo (DC Comics), ISBN 978-1-4012-0841-7, 1989
RequiredTextbookSecret Path, Downie, G. & Lemire, J., Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, ISBN 978-1-5011-5594-9, 2016
RequiredTextbookThe Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi, Pantheon, ISBN 978-0-3757-1483-2, 2004
RequiredTextbookWatchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, DC Comics, ISBN 978-0-9302-8923-2, 1987
RequiredTextbookThe Complete Maus, Art Spiegelman, Pantheon, ISBN 0-679- 40641-7, 1991
RequiredTextbookPyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Guy Delisle, Drawn & Quarterly, 978-1-897299-21-0, 2015
OptionalTextbookFun home, Bechdel, Alison, New York: Samuel French, ISBN 978-0-6180-8717-1, 2014
OptionalTextbookMoonshot: the indigenous comics collection vol. 1, Nicholson, Hope, Toronto: Alternate History Comics, ISBN 978-0-9877-1525-8, 2015

Applicable student group(s): All students eligible to take General Education electives
Course Details:

MODULE ONE:  Understanding Sequential Art

Week 1
Course Introduction
Understanding Comics, chapters 1-3.  The Vocabulary of Comics. Quiz 1

Week 2
Understanding Comics, chapters 4-6. time, line and form, and
narration.  Quiz 2 (10%)

Week 3
Understanding Comics, chapters 7-9.  The six steps in graphic novel
analysis. Quiz 3 (10%)

Week 4
Reading: Batman: Year One. 
MODULE 2:  Hero and Superhero

Week 5
V for Vendetta (novel and film adaptation).

Week 6
Watchmen (novel and film adaptation).

Week 7
Wikilecture Assignment.  Film:  Batman Begins. Group Presentation (10%)

Week 8
First Essay (20%)

MODULE 3:  Secret Path: Residential Schooling in Canada

Week 9
Apollo's Song (Tezuka)

MODULE 4:  Comics as Social History

Week 10:  Maus or Persepolis.

Week 11:  Pyongyang, a journey in North Korea. Second Essay (20%)

MODULE 5: Online and Collaborative Comics

Week 12
Online graphic novels- overview

Week 13
Collaborative Assignment Due (20%)

Week 14
Course conclusion and evaluation

Sheridan Policies

All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

Intellectual Property: Sheridan's Intellectual Property Policy generally applies such that students own their own work. Please be advised that students working with external research and/or industry collaborators may be asked to sign agreements that waive or modify their IP rights. Please refer to Sheridan's IP Policy and Procedure.

Respectful Behaviour: Sheridan is committed to provide a learning environment that supports academic achievement by respecting the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of every person engaged in the learning process. Behaviour which is inconsistent with this principle will not be tolerated. Details of Sheridan's policy on Harassment and Discrimination, Academic Integrity and other academic policies are available on the Sheridan policy website.

Accessible Learning: Accessible Learning coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information or to register, please see the Accessible Learning website (Statement added September 2016)

Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

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