SPCH-S 400 Senior Seminar in Speech Communication

W 5:30 – 8:00pm Topic: Understanding Comics and Graphic Novels. This seminar explores the creation and impact of contemporary comic books and graphic narratives.

“Words, pictures and other icons are the vocabulary of the language called comics.”
     – Scott McCloud, artist/author

“As the twenty-first century approaches, visual iconography may finally help us realize a form of universal communication.”
     – Scott McCloud, artist/author

Instructor – Dr. Alec R. Hosterman, Senior Lecturer and Chair of Communication Studies
Phone – 574.520.4883
E-mail – ahosterm@iusb.edu
Office – Northside 033K

Day/Time – Wednesday, 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Course Location – Northside 0044
Required Texts:

Prerequisites – S121 Public Speaking

Link to specific course policies.

Read this: How to Write a Paper for Professor Hosterman



From comic books to editorial cartoons, manga to graphic novels, the comic is a distinct genre of visual rhetoric that deserves to be critically examined.  SPCH-S 400 Senior Seminar tackles the comics and graphic novel conundrum, approaching it from a contemporary rhetorical perspective.  Our goal is to re-examine these visual objects from a communication perspective, thereby allowing us to understand and appreciate the presence and force comics have on society. To do this we will be looking at the discipline from a communication perspective, read major works, and engage assignments that will assess your learning. As a result of taking this course, you will:

  • To learn the aesthetic principles and basic standards that guide rhetorical and visual criticism;
  • To identify and articulate major historical developments and genres in the medium’s evolution;
  • To develop an appreciation for the creativity and expression exhibited in comics and graphic novels;
  • To identify the specific cultural, social, and political components apparent in comics and graphic novels.

Throughout the semester, you will produce deliverables (assignments) that gauge your level of comprehension and application of the material in the course. These include:

  • Research Project – Students will produce a research project related to some aspect of comics and graphic novels. Research Project information document. Worth 250 points.
  • Research Proposal – Students will submit a proposal for their final research project. Worth 50 points.
  • Project Presentation – At the end of the semester, students will hold a roundtable discussion and give a brief synopsis of their research project to the class. Worth 50 points.
  • Quizzes – There will be weekly quizzes to make sure you are keeping up on the readings. Worth a total of 150 points.
  • Examinations – There are 2 essay-style exams in this course, each worth 200 points. Worth a total of 400 points.
  • Attendance and Participation – The easiest part of your grade is assessed by your attendance in class and participation in discussion and activities: don’t fall asleep, be respectful of others, and contribute. Worth 100 points.

The following schedule is tentative.  I reserve the right to change it depending upon our pace through the course, however I will give advanced notice.

08.28  Introduction to the course; Defining Comic Books as a Medium (POC, ch. 1)

09.04  The History of Comic Books, Part I (POC, ch. 2, pages 36-48); The History of Comic Books, Part II (POC, ch. 3)

09.11  Comic Book Creators (POC, ch. 5); Secret Wars (Shooter, Zeck, Layton)

09.18  Creating the Story (POC, ch. 6). start Watchmen (Moore and Gibbons)

09.25  Experiencing the Story (POC, ch. 7). finish Watchmen (Moore and Gibbons)

10.02  Comic Book Genres: The Superhero Genre (POC, ch. 10); Kingdom Come (Waid and Ross)

10.09  No class – Votre professeur sera en France. Research proposals due by 10/9. Take home exam due by 10/11. (Because I will be out of the country, no e-mail confirmations of received items are guaranteed until I return.)

10.16  Comic Books and Ideology (POC, ch. 11); Journalism (Sacco)

10.23  AD: New Orleans After the Deluge (Neufeld): video

10.30  Shooting War (Lappe and Goldman)

11.06  Alison Bechdel: Reframing Memory (Wolk); Fun Home (Bechdel)

11.13  History and Graphic Representation in Maus (Chute); Maus I (Spiegelman)

11.20  Deogratias (Stassen); plane crash; Ghosts of Rwanda

11.23  Research Projects due by 5pm

11.27  The Arrival (Tan)

12.04  Research Presentations

12.11  6:15pm start time Final Exam (on material from 10.16 on)


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