WRTG 3020 Topics in Writing: Comics and the Graphic Novel

Instructor Contact:

Sarah Barkin

Email: sarah.barkin@colorado.edu

About the Course:

In this course, we’ll look at a number of classic and contemporary comics and graphic narratives as well as scholarly and fan-based readings as we explore the relations between comics practices and (often radically) different national, historical, cultural, and political contexts. Because this is a writing course, we’ll also focus our attention on the rhetorical function of comics and their relationship to historical and social issues such as politics, trauma, race, gender, class, and sexuality.

In addition, we’ll discuss how different aesthetic forms and genres not only impact a reader’s understanding of what comics are, but also ask us to deeply consider what comics can do and say about the world we live in. To this end students will have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of texts including, but not limited to, web comics; book-length projects; superhero comics; autographics & memoirs; graphic journalism; and film & textual adaptations. Each assignment will give students the opportunity to practice and develop their analytical skills through purposeful reading, critical thinking, and thoughtful writing as we delve into the complex, colorful, and fascinating world of comics.


By the end of the course you should be able to:

  1. develop rhetorical knowledge, analyzing and making informed choices about purposes, audiences, and context(s) as you read and compose texts.
  2. analyze texts in a variety of genres, understanding how content, style, structure and format vary across a range of reading and writing situations.
  3. refine and reflect on your writing process, using multiple strategies to generate ideas, draft, revise, and edit your writing across a variety of genres.
  4. develop information literacy, making critical choices as you identify a specific research need, locate and evaluate information and sources, and draw connections among your own and others’ ideas in your writing.
  5. construct effective and ethical arguments, using appropriate reasons and evidence to support your positions while responding to multiple points of view.
  6. understand and apply language conventions rhetorically, including grammar, spelling, punctuation and format.

Required Texts:

  • Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Harper Collins, 1993.
  • Other texts will be provided on Canvas

Grading (out of 1000 total points):

Discussion posts & participation: 250 pts

  • 10 posts (roughly 2 per week): 25 pts each
  • 10 comments on other posts over the length of the course: 5 pts each

2 main essays: total of 600 points

  • Analysis essay draft & feedback: 10 pts
  • Analysis essay final: 20 pts
  • Research essay draft & feedback: 10 pts
  • Research essay final: 20 pts

Creative comic: 150 pts


Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search Buff Portal and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado