The Best Laid Schemes o’ Maus

The Graphic Novel

March 22nd, 2011

Themes: , , , , ,

. . . ‘an men / Gang [na] agley.

I’ve uploaded several journal articles to the folder in Google Docs. Read over a few1 —during class tomorrow you will choose one to present later in the week.

Here is the plan (with dates!).


  1. Wrap up your reading of Maus.
  2. Skim through the articles in the Docs folder, choosing a few that look interesting (for your group’s discussion and your own research).
  3. If you’ve already finished Maus, begin work on your analysis by reading one or two of the articles and working on your hypothesis.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd):

  1. Read and discuss the articles you skimmed (or read) last night.
  2. Choose one article to read thoroughly and present to the class. You may run your presentation as you wish, but your goal should be to help your audience understand the article (they will have read it the night before) and the place of the argument in the context of our discussion of the work. You will need to cover the following:
    1. The author’s thesis
    2. Clarification and examples of any major points
    3. Examples of the author’s argument in areas of the text not explicitly mentioned in the article (I will have a copy of Maus that you can project, if you wish)
    4. Questions and comments for class discussion.
  3. Write a synopsis (individually) of the article to be turned in the day you present.
  4. At the end of the hour I will let you know which group will be presenting on Thursday.

Thursday 24th–Wednesday 30th:

  1. If your group is presenting, you will have the full period. You may wish to divide the major points in the article among the members of your group, then come together for comments and discussion, but it is up to you.
  2. If you are not presenting, read the article the night before and come to class with a copy. Be prepared to ask questions about the work (for clarification) and comment if necessary (in support or rebuttal).
  3. All should take notes with the development of your thesis in mind, asking questions of the class if you are having difficulty with its formulation or support.
  4. In the evenings you should be reading the article to be presented the next day (or skimming it if you’ve already read it) and working on the outline of your analysis. Let me know when you have finished the outline (shared through the Docs); I’ll give you feedback before you begin your rough draft.

Thursday 31st:

  1. Come to class with a rough draft and works cited for your own analysis. (Google docs is fine.)
  2. You will have all hour to work on it in the lab; if you finish, you should trade with another for editing and support.

Friday 1st:

  1. We will discuss the analyses and reflect on the process, planning for further investigation of the medium in the weeks to come.


That may have been overly specific, but I hope it clears up any questions you may have about our process. Let me know if you have any further questions.

[A copy of this is also in the communal folder in Google Docs.]

    1. You’ll be using several in your analysis, so any work you do tonight can go towards that. []

    Best Graphic Novels

    British Literature

    January 6th, 2010

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    NPR’s Glen Weldon has a list of the year’s best graphic novels here.

    I’ve only read Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli, so I guess I’m a bit behind the times. For those who have asked, the two graphic novels I’ve been using as examples are Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, and Blankets by Craig Thompson.

    I’ve already given you a list of my favorites, though I would add the Scott Pilgrim series and Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (it is as gross as it sounds, but the artwork’s amazing), as well as The Squirrel Machine (more brilliant art—a mix between Charles Burns and Chris Ware) and a number of newer Batman titles. Gotta love the Dark Knight.

    As always, use your best judgment when choosing a graphic title. Some can be quite, erm, graphic.

    Have I overlooked anything? I’m always looking for new stuff, so share your knowledge in the comments.

    From Gothic to Graphic

    British Literature

    December 12th, 2009

    Themes: , ,

    Not that kind of graphic.

    We spent much time on the imagery within Gothic literature—from the dramatic scenes of creation and destruction to the weather that cast an eerie (sometimes eerily calm) glow on the action. We’re going to continue this look at imagery (and plenty of other devices) with a study of graphic novels.

    Your homework for this weekend is to travel to your favorite local book purveyor  and browse the graphic novel shelf (the library has a solid collection, just check before you drive).  Find a book that interests you, purchase (or borrow) it, and bring it to class on Monday.

    "But wait," you say, "I don’t like superheroes and I’ve never even touched a graphic novel.  Heck, I don’t even know where to start."  Tilting my head in consolation, I respond: "Aww, shucks.  I’ll help you."  Offering a nick to the chin, we begin our journey:

    Graphic Novels 101: A story in which your kindly teacher leads you through the illustrated world of the graphic novel, ending in your personal discovery that the most often looked down upon medium actually contains stories worth reading.  And studying.

    First lesson, a list.  These are the cream of the crop.  The first three are autobiographical (though Jimmy Corrigan is only partly so); Sandman is masterfully written fantasy; Cerebus is part fantasy, part social satire (think Gulliver’s Travels with an aardvark); the final two are modern superhero tales.

    Now, go out and consume.

    We’ll begin a formal look at graphic novels on Monday, so please pick one up before then.

    Remember, this list is merely a starting point; find a work that piques your interest, not one that you think I want you to read.  Remember, remember, graphic novels are occasionally violent and may contain images that are inappropriate for high school.  You should get parental approval before purchasing anything not on the above list. Also, remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot…

    [Note: I realize that I am completely ignorant of authors, titles, movements, styles, etc. in the manga genre.  Please forgive this, and know I will accept any guidance you can offer in this realm.  I also realize that the Graphic Novels 101 subtitle contains an overly long sentence followed by a fragment.  Do as I say, not as I do.]

    Persepolis has arrived!

    British Literature

    April 26th, 2008

    Themes: ,

    You can pick up your copy of Marjane Satrapi’s book at the Barnes and Noble on 41st.  Begin reading for our discussion on Monday.

    This weekend, be thinking about a work that you would like to illuminate.  It can be in any medium that you like.  While you should be true to the original, an adaptation is fine.  We’ll talk more about this on Monday.

    The books are in!

    Contemporary Fiction

    April 26th, 2008

    Themes: ,

    You can pick up a copy of Chip Kidd’s The Cheese Monkeys at the Barnes and Noble at 41st.

    We are writing reviews of our graphic novels over the weekend.  They need not be longer than a page.  If you aren’t sure how to begin, check out for some good examples.