In Class: Graphic Material

Kay Hinton

Course Title

English 389RW: Comics and Visual Literacy

Course Description

This course explores American comic books and Japanese manga from cultural, aesthetic, literary, and ethical perspectives. Students study sequential art as a medium with its own standards of artistic quality that require a high level of visual literacy on the part of informed readers.

Professor CV

A lecturer in English at Oxford College since 2005, Brad Hawley received a BA in English from Presbyterian College, an MA in English literature from Clemson University, and a PhD in English literature from the University of Oregon. Areas of specialty include contemporary fiction and ethics as well as first-year composition and rhetoric.

Today's Class

A wide-ranging discussion centers on Genkaku Picasso, a three-volume Japanese manga series by Usamuru Furuya. The protagonist is a high-school introvert nicknamed Picasso because of his artistic talent. The loss of his only friend drives him to help others by drawing their “hearts”—an epic creative endeavor that uses art and allegory to explore the psyche of classmates who are struggling with their own personal challenges.

Quotes to Note

“Manga, like comics in the US, are not a genre; they are an art form like fiction or film or drama, all of which present narratives. In a manga periodical, there can be an endless variety of genres represented—from mysteries, horror, and science fiction to coming-of-age and daily life stories.”—Professor Hawley

Students Say

“As a college student, one of the most important things is learning to help yourself. That’s what this book made me think about. Picasso never really recognizes his grief. I remember in RA training, we talked about how everyone comes to campus thinking they have to wear a mask. It’s important to recognize your emotions and let yourself feel.” —Renie George 17Ox 19C

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