ENGLISH 418 - The Graphic Narrative
Fall 2023, Section 001 - World War II in Comics
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Comics have a long and rich relationship to World War II. Their superheroes engaged in the war in the pages of comic books before the U.S. even entered it. And the medium of comics has been an important space for preserving history and memories associated with World War II, as is evident in well-known texts like Art Spiegelman’s Maus but also in the lesser-known Barefoot Gen, a manga by Keiji Nakazawa about his experiences surviving the bombing of Hiroshima. World War II persists even today as a narrative engine for comics: for example, Mike Mignola set Hellboy’s origin story during World War II, and the sprawling tale in Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters has at its core the surprising story of one Holocaust survivor. We’ll read all these comics and others, exploring the nature of the ties that comics have with World War II: Why do this particular medium and this particular war have such a close kinship? As all that probably makes clear, this course is dedicated to the serious study of comics. It’s based on the idea that they’re not a simple or unrefined form of storytelling but incredibly sophisticated and nuanced.

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirements: Foundations & Methods 300/400-level, Regions: Americas, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Time: Modern/Contemporary

Course Requirements:

This is a discussion-based course. Because it is an upper-level English course, much will be expected in terms of reading and writing. Aside from the comics we read, we’ll dig into World War II history and also secondary works about how comics work. Students will complete regular, short, low-stakes writing assignments, some of which also involve drawing, and 2 or 3 larger (1200-1500) papers that will ask them to compose using words and images. Drawing skills are NOT required; in this course we will draw to learn, not to be artists. No exams.

Intended Audience:

This is an upper-level English course; experience taking a lower-level English or writing course is strongly recommended, but isn’t required. I cannot stress enough how true it is that students NEED NOT have any experience or talent drawing to take this course. Students also need not have any prior knowledge of World War II or experience reading comics to enroll.


ENGLISH 418 - The Graphic Narrative
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

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