Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Literature in a Hurry

If you're in a bind, a crunch, a reading slump, why not try comics or graphic novels? They're literature in a hurry, but not to be undervalued. Read my discussion of graphic novels, particularly Maus and American Born Chinese, in the latest installment of "The Finicky Reader."


  1. I read this yesterday, but I've been having to cram together a lesson plan for tomorrow (incidently, involving Watchmen) so I never got around to commenting until today.

    But your essay was amazing and absolutely spot-on. More academic literary types need to be promoting the graphic novel as a legitimate art form that needs to be studied and written about as such. And you picked some great examples - nobody will dispute that Maus deserved the Pulitzer. It NEEDS to be read alongside the likes of Night and The Diary of Anne Frank, but when will it be placed on a "mainstream" cirriculum?

    The graphic novel as a genre has come a long way, but it still appears to still have a bit of a journey ahead of it before being fully embraced for its narrative potential. Keep writing and keep promoting, Andi! You wrote an amazing essay.

    And HAPPY INAUGURATION DAY!...or what's left of it.

  2. I still haven't gotten around to reading Maus. I finally read Watchmen a few months ago. I am sooo behind on my graphic novels ...

  3. My husband suggested I read Watchmen the next time I feel myself needing a break from my current tome. He's right, I should. I want to read it before the movie comes out, at least. :-)

    Great article, by the way!

  4. I have not read Maus yet, but I read American Born Chinese and thought it was interesting and bought it for my nephew for Xmas. I have read Shakespeare stuff like Hamlet and MacBeth in graphic narrative and bought them as gifts for nieces and nephews. And at your recommendation I bought the first volume of the Bones series for #1 granddaughter and she is now working on the second volume in the series. I think it is a good way to get kids to reading and keep reading as well as quick reads for adults.Hope things are going well with you thus far. TTFN

  5. P.S. #2 son and a friend of his is wild about The Watchmen. #2 son is trying to get his brother into reading it.

  6. Woohoo! Would love to see that lesson plan about Watchment, Meredith! Thanks for the comments about the column. It's definitely a growing community of academics singing the praises of graphic novels. Several of the profs from my former English masters program use them in class regularly, write about them, etc. As such, the interest rubbed off on my and lots of my peers, so we're all spreading like a virus. lol There's definitely still a bit of journeying to do for the graphic novel, but I think it's well on the way.

    You'll love it, Dennis. I feel sure.

    Thanks, Wendy! I really need to read Watchmen, too. I've heard some controversy about the movie release, so it looks like we may have some time to get caught up.

    Fem, you'll totally love Maus! I'm glad to hear that my Bone recommendation turned out well!

  7. Heh the Watchmen assignment didn't go over too well in one of my classes, but the other one seemed to respond to it. I teach freshman-level composition this semester, and for their in-class assignment about description I scanned page 5 from Watchmen - one with no dialog or captioning - and had them write about what they saw as if an artist were to recreate the scene. And they couldn't use words like "dark," "mysterious," "big/large/huge," or "climb" so it forced them to use a more vivid, dynamic vocabulary.

    It would be AWESOME to teach a class on graphic novels as literature someday, though. Maus, Watchmen, and Ghost World would be necessities. Hmmm...what else would you include? Maybe Sandman if you wanted a heavily postmodern bent.


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