Draft Booklist for a Last-Minute First-Year Writing Course

Lego X-Men

Photo by Flickr user Rob Young / Creative Commons licensed

As I’ve whined on Twitter, my digital humanities class this semester was canceled*, and has been replaced with a section of first-year writing.  Since classes begin on the 24th,  I need a book order immediately, and a syllabus soon after.

My normal strategy in first-year writing courses, since I normally teach in the first-year experience program, is to make the class be about college.  We read a lot about higher ed, from a variety of perspectives.  And that works pretty well with first-semester students. In the spring, though, the students have been around for a semester, and I’ve never had good luck with that approach under those circumstances.  (And it’s not an FYE section anyway–it’s just a regular section of 110.)  I needed a new theme, and thought that comic books would be an interesting way to go.

Here’s the draft booklist for the class:

We’ll also do some webcomics, but I don’t know which ones yet.  (Definitely Vision Machine, though, since my 7-yr-old loves Greg Pak, and he secretly makes all my curricular decisions.) If you’ve got thoughts, let me know!

(I’ll acknowledge straightaway that the course is shaped to a certain extent by “stuff I know really well without having to do a dramatic amount of prep for, since ohbytheway I’m still union president, and teaching comp while doing that is going to be hard.” The course isn’t providing an introduction or a proper survey, but just enough to be interesting.)

*The course suffered from a perfect storm: it doesn’t count for *anything* in the major; it meets on MWF in the first semester of a new MW schedule (all classes with Friday sessions took a hit); and I wasn’t around in the fall to hype it, especially in light of the other two reasons.

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3 Responses to Draft Booklist for a Last-Minute First-Year Writing Course

  1. Josh Rose says:

    Love this idea, and the list looks great. I was compelled by your mention of online comics to offer two that may or may not fit in, since it’s been years since I’ve even needed to *think* about a freshmen-level comp course. Two online comics I have been intrigued by (and you probably already know about) are Dash Shaw’s “Bodyworld” (http://www.dashshaw.com/bodyworld_prelude.html) and Sydney Padua’s “2-D Goggles” (http://2dgoggles.com/). What I love about each is how they use the online format to break with conventions of “pages” and organization in comics. Shaw creates long elaborate pages/panels that, once the reader begins scrolling, realizes he is using the infinite space of the web-page to create intriguing narrative stretches and pauses. Padua, on the other hand, has crafted an adoring and hilarious fictional account of the mathematical experiments and genius of Ada Lovelace, but usually annotates each episode with letter entries, commentary, and historical information and images she finds online using Google Books and other resources. Both are fascinating reads, albeit quite different in tone, but I feel use the internet in intriguing ways narratively so that the story is not confined to a mandated approach or voice, but allowed to breathe and expand in intriguing ways.

  2. jbj says:

    Thanks so much for these recommendations! Shaw got a plug on Twitter, too, and I’m thrilled to think about “2-D Goggles,” since I’m a Victorianist by training.

  3. Nels says:

    Thanks for listing the Madden. I’d never heard of it, but it’s perfect for my Graphic Memoir class I’m doing Fall 2012.

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