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An Intermedial Approach to Comic Books

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 2


This seminar aims at understanding North American comic books as an ever-transforming form of popular culture, shaped in large part by its interaction with other media.

The approach will be mostly chronological, ranging from the “invention” of comics in Europe in the 19th century to the rise of YA graphic novels in the US since the beginning of the 21st century. It will also include examples of the way comics have served as an inspiration for other media – most notably in the contemporary wave of superhero films – and have conversely adapted or imported content origination in other media, from silent movie stars to literary classics. Beyond specific examples, the course will offer a theoretical approach to intermediality, with a special focus on adaptation, franchising and transmedia storytelling, and will also broach issues of genre and cultural hierarchies.

At the end of this seminar, students will be expected to understand and to be able to explain the interactions between technology, market forces, aesthetic choices, intermedial circulation and social uses in specific comics.

Students will be expected to conduct a range of readings including select examples of comics and theoretical texts before each class.

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Contrôle des connaissances

Students following the seminar will be requested to write a final essay, locating a selected comic book in the history of the medium.

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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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Mandatory reading:

  • Randy Duncan, Matthew J. Smith, & Paul Levitz (eds.), The Power of Comics: History, Form, and 
    Culture 2nd ed. (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). ISBN: 978-1472535702.


Recommended reading:

1) The university owns over 6000 Marvel comic books, which should be available again in the coming 

2) Highly recommended reading:

  • Beaty, Bart, and Benjamin Woo, The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital and the Field 
    of American Comic Books. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
  • Gabilliet, Jean-Paul, Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books, UP of 
    Mississippi, 2010. ISBN : 978-1617038556.


3) Further reading:

  • Baetens, Jan, and Hugo Frey. The Graphic Novel: An Introduction. Cambridge Introductions to 
    Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014.
  • Beaty, Bart. Twelve-Cent Archie. Comics Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press., 2015.
  • Beaty, Bart, Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture, U Press of Mississipi, 2005.
  • Burke, Liam. Comic Book Film Adaptation: Exploring Modern Hollywood’s Leading Genre. Jackson: 
    Univ Pr Of Mississippi, 2015.
  • Groensteen, Thierry, Système de la bande dessinée, PUF, 1999.
  • Kidman, Shawna. Comic Books Incorporated: How the Business of Comics Became the Business of 
    Hollywood. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press., 2019.
  • Lefèvre, Pascal. « Incompatible Visual Ontologies ». In Film and Comic Books, 1-12., Jackson: 
    University Press of Mississipi, 2007.
  • McCloud, Scott, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, Harper, 1994.
  • ---, Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, Harper, 2006.
  • Smolderen, Thierry, The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, UP of 
    Mississippi, 2014.
  • Hatfield, Charles, Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature, U Press of Mississippi, 2005.
  • Hutcheon, Linda, et Siobhan O’Flynn. A theory of adaptation. 2nd ed. London ; New York: Routledge, 
  • Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York 
    University Press, 2006.
  • Labarre, Nicolas. Understanding Genres in Comics. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
  • Jones, Gerard, Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, Basic Books, 
  • Nyberg, Amy Kiste, Seal of Approval: the History of the Comics Code, U Press of Mississipi, 1998.
  • Williams, Paul. Dreaming the Graphic Novel: The Novelization of Comics. New Brunswick: Rutgers 
    Univ. Press, 2020
  • Wright, Bradford W., Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America 2nd ed., 
    Johns Hopkins UP, 2003.
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