Course Instructor Days Times Room

Topics Title
Graphic Romance: Medieval Romance, Graphic Novels, and the Visual Narrative

The heroes of medieval romance are typically born to glory or have it thrust upon them as each quest brings new romantic entanglements, exotic travel, and encounters with the supernatural on the road to honor and fame. Medieval romance, originally handwritten in manuscripts and often illustrated, shares many common elements with comic books and graphic novels, genres just as closely aligned with our time as romance was with its medieval audiences. Our class will not only explore how medieval texts, visual language, and images work together to create compelling narratives, but how medieval collaborative writing practices have been re-imagined in comic books and graphic novels. While we examine the complicated and contradictory elements of medieval romance, like the often uncomfortable relationships between honor, loyalty, violence, love, gender, and the balance between personal glory and the greater good, we'll also look at more contemporary illustrated works to see how similarly (or not) these same narrative and visual elements are handled today.

 Texts will range from traditional works like Marie de France's Lais, Chretien de Troye's romances, selections from Chaucer's Canterbury TalesSir Gawain and the Green Knight (in modern publication and its existing illustrated manuscript) to saints' stories and historical chronicles, like Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain and the Life of Merlin (the texts which popularized such familiar characters as King Arthur and Merlin). We'll also spend time comparing these texts to some modern works by authors like Neil Gaiman and Todd Mcfarlane.

 Expect to read a lot of Middle English (don't worry, we'll spend the first couple weeks getting you comfortable with the language), to encounter some genre and image theory, and to read some of the more harrowing, complex and unexpected narratives available from the Middle Ages.