Sunday, May 3, 2015

To Graph(ic) or not to Graph(ic)

So here we are, at the end of all things -- well, not really, but we are at the end of the semester. I've been asking everyone what they've thought about the idea of an English 100 course using all graphic adaptations -- first, as to the idea itself: what does it add? Is there a downside? And, while it may make understanding some kinds of literature easier to understand, doe that mean it's easier, or more fun to write about? Lastly, what about The Graphic Canon? Do you think that its adaptations offered consistent interest, and value for the price? One other option I'd considered was using a series of graphic novels rather than the three-volume anthology; the titles would probably have included things like Culbard and Edington's A Study in Scarlet, Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein, Art Spiegelman's MAUS I & II, and some free-standing graphic novels such as Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta, Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons, and Derf Backderf's My Friend Dahmer. Would any of you have preferred a course of this kind, with fewer but more substantial graphical texts? I'd value your thoughts, and a response here will count for the class.

12 comments:

  1. I have always dreaded having to take an English class where we are assigned books to read due to the fact that I certainly believe that everyone has their own unique view on novels and what they like. However, this is the first English class where I found myself really enjoying what I was reading and writing about. I have never even heard of graphic novels, and while reading this graphic canon I really enjoyed all the adaptations not because of their actual content (because believe me some of these adaptations ruined original texts) but because of the uniqueness it brought to reader's minds. I was able to look outside of the box on some of the most famous literary pieces known to man. It was fun and exciting and something different than your boring old English class filled with Hamlet and Of Mice and Men. The only thing I would change for future courses if maybe different graphic novels. Although I did enjoy the graphic canon, I feel that we were unable to use it to its full potential. The three-volume set was a but pricey for only using about 6-8 stories from each, maybe like you mentioned obtaining/ assigning a series of graphic novels rather than the three-volume anthology. I would also like to add that maybe you could make the reading of the adaptations longer. Instead of obtaining stories with 6-8 page adaptations maybe include stories with 20-30 pages. This is a lot of reading but with the addition that they are mostly illustrations it might help readers understand the stories more and be able to follow and analyze the works of art better. For instance, I fell in love with the Moby-Dick illustrations (despite a lot of negative feedback from others) and would have loved if I could have seen more of Kish's illustrations within the graphic canon. Overall, this has been my favorite English class yet, and I thoroughly enjoyed are class discussions. Thanks for a great semester!

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  2. Corey Carvalho

    Overall, I enjoy the idea of teaching graphic novels. I believe it benefits both parties, bookworms and those who are not as interested in reading. It can help the bookworms broaden their horizons by analyzing other versions of their favorite classics, and help people like me who hate to read these classics, by making them easier to read.

    As for the three volume series, I was not a huge fan. I believe that series of graphic novels would better suit a class like this. The adaptations in the volumes were too short to actually thoroughly analyze. Maybe a class vote before the semester begins would be helpful to gauge what would be the most interesting adaptations to use for the class.

    I did enjoy the class in general, as it provided a different approach to this subject. I had always hated sitting in class in high school reading an entire novel out loud, with students "popcorning" the reading to other classmates after fulfilling the one paragraph requirement for reading out loud. Thank you for this different approach and thank you for a great semester!

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  3. Studies of Literature and the Canon is probably my favorite class this semester. I loved the idea of looking at adaptations of original texts with the help of visual aid. It really did help me understand this course material better. By using graphic adaptations I was able to understand the theme and get a better understanding of each individual adaptation overall. If there was any downside to having these graphic adaptations (which there really wasn’t), was that some of them didn’t live up to what I would have hoped they would be. A numerous amount of these classics I have previously read or annotated. Therefore, my expectations were quite high. Also, sometimes if the adaptation was too much, (the coloring, wording, illustrations themselves, etc.) it took away from the original. Other than that, I would say that there really isn’t much wrong with having a graphic adaptation. I would have to say that it is more fun to write about a graphic adaptation because there is more to write about because you can either write about the text itself, or the illustrations. It gives you more ideas and it generates a better thought process in my opinion. The Graphic Canon volumes while they did cost some money, I think were well worth it. They kept me interested throughout the whole story, and some of the adaptations while I didn’t like them, I felt obligated to finish them. Russ Kick did a good job with the adaptations he picked for his volumes. If I’m being completely honest, I would not have liked to have fewer but more substantial graphical texts because I think that I would have gotten less of a feel for graphic cannons themselves. I think that having such short adaptations helped with my focus for the class because it kept me interested. We weren’t stuck on the same book for weeks at a time just dragging it out. That honestly helped me with this class. Each week, there was a different set of adaptations to read, and that keep my mind going and it made me interested. I honestly thought this was a great class and thoroughly enjoyed it. If I had to take another literature class, I would want to take something like this.

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  4. Going into this class, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn't really sure what a "graphic canon" was and what it meant by reading graphic novels. As it turns out, I was happily surprised with how interesting and fun the class was. I found it easier to interpret "classic" novels through visuals and art because I personally am more of a visual learner. It was nice to be able to express our own individual ideas and thoughts without there being a wrong answer.
    I think that the idea of using a series of graphic novels as opposed to our three volume books would be worse because like Rachel said, its easier to focus on small adaptations. I think it would have been too boring to have a series of graphic novels because I think for a 100 level english class, you can only say so much about a graphic novel. It would have been too dragged out and I think people would lose focus very fast and become less interested.
    But overall, this class was great. It was a lot of fun, but more importantly I liked reading the adaptations. It's different than any other english class i've had and I really enjoyed it.

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  5. Honestly, I enjoyed how the class is structured and includes the modern use of blogging. For the criteria, I also found it enjoyable. For nonenglish majors, reading a series of books that might not interest the reader gets old quick. This class was unexpectedly different. Focusing on adaptations made it more easier to enjoy rich literature through the works of "struggling artists," which made a more social modern concept in the class. Students gave respects to illustrators. I enjoyed learning about these struggling artists. They gave really unique perspectives of examples of lit. The amount of stories made the class interesting too. It can give a false sense of overwhelming pace. Although it may seem like a lot, it wasnt, it was just the right amount of stories. I now look at graphic adaptations with more respect for the authors and illustrators. Enjoyed it, I would recommend.

    Nathan Silva

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  6. I have found this class to be very enjoyable, it reminded me of times when I was younger when books such as “where the wild things are” were talked about. The concept of illustrated books in my opinion is wonderful I think every book should be illustrated mostly because I read a lot of manga, however it adds character to the book. The stories we read in class were mostly enjoyable I would have liked to read more and I think using the three volumes of The Graphic Canon is the best way to go since there is such a variety of books. Overall I loved the class and thought that one way to improve it was to have some group work to share some ideas and then talk about it as a class.

    Bryant Ayala

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  7. As an English major, this class was sublime. I loved every minute of it. The graphic adaptations of classics give you a different understanding of what the author intended to portray. Some adaptions were just really terrible but it made great conversation (I was not fond of how Because I Could Not Stop for Death did not give the full poem). There is a common theme I say in my posts and essays and I'l say it again: Illustrations are really helpful when it comes to understanding these canonical texts. They are hard works to read and giving them to high schoolers makes reading a big turn off. Hell, even as a college student I know there will be texts that I will dread, and if one of those texts is Ulysses then wish me luck, but the graphic adaption of Ulysses helped me understand the story. The two versions were really useful to understand the meaning Joyce wanted to portray and just the regular plot line. I also enjoyed writing the essays for this class, they are a lot of fun! This course is a great introduction course to the vast world of English at Rhode Island College. I only hope other classes will be as fun as this one was. It would be cool to focus on a series of graphic novels of the classics, I would loved to have read the whole graphic adaptation of Frankenstein, but the anthologies were just as good - if not, better. Overall, I enjoyed this class a lot. hope all goes well for the summer and May the 4th be with you!

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  8. This class was actually challenging for me. It wasn't the workload, but the thought process required to complete the assignments. For the first time, I was challenged to think outside the box and analyze something based upon my opinions instead of regurgitating the opinions of others. The class is one of the few where something isn't black and white/right or wrong. I wouldn't change the course with regards to the structure and endgame, but... the textbooks were cumbersome. It came to the point where there was an internal debate on whether or not to bring the volumes to class. On a plus side the set was relatively inexpensive. As a reader, I was not a fan of the set because one excerpt from a chapter of a story cannot begin to enlighten a reader about the story. I disagree that "it helps people who dislike reading" because he/she is not reading.They are not even getting the whole story, and are only handicapping themselves. I would personally have preferred the longer adaptations over Kick's. By doing so, the students can still use metacognition and think outside of the box but with a better understanding of the material and..a lighter book bag.

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  9. I think using graphic adaptations have made this class more enjoyable. Almost every single adaptation has brought the same two aspects, enjoyment and simplicity. The pictures accompanying the writings have just added to the stories and made them more enjoyable to read, as well as simpler to read. Through this course I learned how to distinguish between the adaptations that I thought used the graphics as a great addition, compared to those who did the opposite and needed more work. It made me look further into the adaptations and judge them based on their overall looks, not just the story itself. I liked the blogging because I think it made it easier for me to share my opinions and be able to see others. I think the only downside to this course was having to carry around the big, heavy books and sometimes having to go back and forth between them. Maybe a different, smaller book would be more helpful but I wouldn't say this was a huge burden.

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  10. Amber SylvestreMay 4, 2015 at 7:06 PM

    I didn't really know what to expect when I first enrolled in this class. I wasn't sure what a canon was and didn't know what to expect when I found out we were reading a graphic canon. I enjoyed this class very much. I was dreading taking my general education requirement for English because I hate reading assigned books that I have no interest in. I would actually recommend, and have, a friend to take this class. I liked the graphic canon and I enjoyed looking through and reading the different adaptations and interpretations of different famous works. It was so much better than having to read long, hard to grasp novels. Sometimes, the adaptations were difficult to understand, especially if I didn't have prior knowledge of the story. The illustrations in these adaptations made each story easier to understand, which I thought was nice. I also enjoyed blogging each week about what we read and sharing my opinion through a website and also reading others' opinions. The only con about this class is having to go back and forth between each volume and flip through to find each adaptation, but that isn't really an inconvenience. Writing each paper was enjoyable because it allowed us to 'critique' an adaptation. These papers were much more fun to write than any ordinary paper I ever had to write for an English class. I liked exploring all the different kinds of literature in the graphic novel world, but focusing in depth on an actual entire graphic piece would be interesting too.

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  11. Being able to reminisce of old childhood classics was a pleasure compared to my other mundane classes. I also appreciated the many adaptations that we were able to read and breakdown, looking further into their meanings. I feel that the Graphic Canon is a wonderful touch to the curriculum, and I liked that Kick incorporated an array of adaptations. Regardless of your age, at one point or another these stories will put a smile on your face. I think there is just something refreshing about being able to kick back, read a well known story, and see what spin the author put on it. I am always open to creativity, and admire artists who step out of their comfort zone to make a point. Throughout this semester, we looked at many adaptations that were just "alright" or that stood out and captured the audience. I feel that maybe just one volume would suffice rather than three, just because there were so many other adaptations I wish we would have gone over. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every class, and I got a lot out of it! I have already recommended this class to a few of my friends and I can't wait for them to take it.

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  12. Brandon Men

    At first I did not know what to expect from this class. After the first day I was a little nervous because I have never done the online stuff like you had us do but I'm glad I did in the end. It was a good experience and this class made me think differently than what I am use to. The texts were all readable because in almost every story the pictures helped. I think this class was a good eye opener to different view points on texts and pictures. I enjoyed it a lot.

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