As I’ve whinedÂ on Twitter, my digital humanities class this semester was canceled*, and has been replaced with a section of first-year writing. Â Since classes begin on the 24th, Â 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. Â We read a lot about higher ed, from a variety of perspectives. Â 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. Â (And it’s not an FYE section anyway–it’s just a regular section of 110.) Â 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:
- Graff/Birkenstein, They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (Norton, 978-0393933611)
- Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics (Harper 978-0060976255)
- Matt Madden, 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (Chamberlain Bros., 978-1596090781)
- Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (Mariner 978-0618871711)
- Brian Vaughan & Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1 (Vertigo, 978-1563899805)
- Warren Ellis, Ben Templesmith, Fell: Vol. 1 (Image Comics, 978-1582406930)
- Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese (Square Fish, 978-0312384487)
- Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 (America’s Best Comics, 978-1563898587)
- Gail Simone, Birds of Prey, Vol 2: Sensei & Student (DC Comics, 978-1401204341)
- Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli, Batman: Year One (DC Comics, 978-1401207526)
We’ll also do some webcomics, but I don’t know which ones yet. Â (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.