Themes in Literature: Global Graphic Literature: Human-Animal Intersections

Section 01
Allison Wiltshire
Course Description

When we think of comics, we might think of comic book companies like Marvel or DC Comics, or we might think of popular comic strips like Peanuts or Garfield. While we usually find these comic books entertaining, we rarely consider comics worthy of studying in academic settings, and what’s more, we don’t often know of graphic literature outside of the Western or Asian genres that American culture has popularized. In truth, there’s a ton of graphic literature that reveals the complexities of the human experience throughout a world of diverse cultures and societies. In drawing us into such histories as the Rwandan genocide, apartheid in South Africa, and the Holocaust, the visual illustrations in the texts we will read in this class will portray humans as pigs, dogs, mice, cats, and other animals. Studying these animal representations in texts like Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Joe Sacco’s Palestine, and J.P. Stassen’s Deogratias, A Tale of Rwanda will allow us to think through how literature of all genres reveals the ways that imaginaries like race, nationality, and gender are socially constructed and how those who are marginalized on the basis of these constructions are dehumanized and degraded to perceived animal-like personhood, and, ultimately, we will explore literature’s unique, and sometimes ironic, power to illustrate the humanity of every person.

(This course is open to all majors)


Course flyer for 1160: Global Graphic Literature