Teaching the History and Theory of American Comics: 20th-Century Graphic Novels as a Complex Literary Genre

  • Lauren E. Perry


While graphic novels are often incorporated into both introductory and advanced literature classes, Perry argues that there is great value in teaching graphic novels as their own distinct genre. As she explains in this chapter, comics require their own bibliography and theoretical introduction, and when students are provided this necessary foundation in a graphic novel-focused class, they are then able to approach graphic texts with a literary, critical thinking mindset. The combination of theoretical inquiry into the graphic text reading process, historical context, and survey of varied graphic texts—from Underground Comix to superhero narratives and standalone stories like Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor—allows for students to get a very strong footing in a field where it is quite easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of any real competency due to such high volumes of texts, and proves emphatically effective in getting students to engage with, research, and close-read graphic novels as literary works.

Works Cited

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren E. Perry
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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