Take This Class: ENGLT 308: Graphic novels and manga

Professor Bob Lyman showing an example on D2L of what he is looking for in an answer during class. (Photo by Brandon Nelson)

When most students think of English literature, they likely think of names like Shakespeare and Orwell. They do not, however, think of Neil Gaiman, Joe Sacco or Frank Miller, unless of course, they have a love for graphic novels.

American River College professor Bob Lyman, knows that the graphic novel is also English literature and is a very prominent interest on campus.

Every Monday and Wednesday, students gather at noon to meet their professor for a rigorous class that seeks to demonstrate that graphic novels can carry the same themes and elements that any book can.

Students take this class for a wide variety of reasons. Katie Fox, an English major at ARC, stated “I’m taking this class because I love graphic novels and manga and I thought it would be kind of a fun class compared to all the other classes that I have to do, and it would be very interesting to take the course.”

The focus on graphic novels is not the only thing that sets ENGLT 308 apart from others.

“I don’t use a (traditional) textbook. My course text is ‘Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art’ and it’s done in comic form and it talks about how comics make meaning,” said Lyman, “This is a guy who regularly draws comics; and then of course all the other course texts are actual comic books, or manga.”

Other required reading in the course includes Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman,’ number four in a series of ten, Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ and Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine.’

“We are looking at Frank Millers ‘The Dark Knight Returns.’ We are looking at Acura, which is a Japanese manga,” continued Lyman.

There is, however, one drawback to this class. Due to budget cuts, ENGLT 308 only is taught every couple semesters, so students will have to keep an eye out if looking to take this class.

As Lyman puts it, “This is an elective course. It’s an interesting elective course because it satisfies the multi-cultural requirement, as well as the critical thinking requirement.”

If students want a class where passion drives both professor and student and elicits great discussion, ENGLT 308 is the class to take.

“I like very much that it analyzes the use of different elements of comics…like the panels and different transitions and the speech bubbles and all those sort of things.” – Katie Fox

“I’ve never really had much of a problem filling the class, but a lot of students who come in who don’t always understand up front that it’s a literature class, and when you move into a literature class, you’re talking about a level of rigor that is a little bit more than the appreciation of comics.” - Professor Lyman

“I’ve never really had much of a problem filling the class, but a lot of students who come in who don’t always understand up front that it’s a literature class, and when you move into a literature class, you’re talking about a level of rigor that is a little bit more than the appreciation of comics.” – Professor Lyman

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