LIT268 : The Graphic Novel and the Love of (Super) Power

Convener(s): Dr. Fabienne Collignon


General Information

This course analyses the conventions and aesthetics of post-1980s Anglo-American graphic novels. Building on the core module on literary theory (LIT204), this course is, then, heavily theorized, and situates the various graphic novels under investigation alongside the work of, amongst others, Jacques Derrida, Adorno and Horkheimer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Klaus Theweleit, Emmanuel Levinas, Walter Benjamin, Michel De Certeau, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. I expect, as such, an enthusiasm for critical theory on this course, which uses multi-modal texts (combining textual narrative with images, including cinema adaptations) to address the psychological and social themes that dominate the graphic novel genre. In particular, the module confronts students with questions concerning the seductive power of the image/popular culture; the myths of technology; the aesthetics of heroism and fascism; the cult of the individual; gendered readings and sexualisations; the imagination of disaster; cultures of surveillance and vigilantism.


This module will be taught by seminars only, which will give students the opportunity to develop critical theory, to contextualize and read, re-read, graphic novels as political texts that don't operate in an ideological vacuum. There is a high degree of participation involved in this course: the emphasis is on discussion, exploration, endless re-visiting.


Students will be assessed via weekly MOLE postings, a tracing project and an academic essay. In the weekly MOLE entries, each student responds to the week's material. The tracing project requires each student to pick a two-page spread from a graphic novel and to reproduce the drawings in a simplified manner; the speech bubbles and caption boxes are to be left blank and later to be filled in with the student's gutter comments. The project is further accompanied by a 1000-word reflection, or 'tour' of the tracing project, which should be more creative than a standard academic essay, which they write later on in the term (2500 words).

Contact Details

Dr. Fabienne Collignon

Information last changed: Monday 10th of August 2015 :: 12:40:20 PM (BST)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK