Intro to Lit: Genre

Myth, Legend, and Adaptation in Comics and Graphic Novels

*Note: This is a working description of the course. As the Spring and Summer semesters progress, this description is subject to change. Please e-mail me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

ENG 271, Section 001

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Fall 2018 Semester

Time & Location: MWF 9:30–10:20 AM, KUY 305

Instructor: Nicole Kurashige (I prefer being called by my first name, so it’s fine if you address me as “Nicole” in-person and via e-mail)

Office & Phone #: KUY 321, (808) 956-3036

E-mail (preferred mode of contact): (I typically respond to e-mails within 12 hours during the regular school week, unless you e-mail me after 10 PM. I generally do not respond to e-mails over the weekend. I will not respond to improperly formatted e-mails that lack a relevant subject line, greeting, appropriately worded body message, and signature).

Office Hours: Mon, 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM or by appointment on MWF before or after class (no office hours on Tues. or Thurs.)

Course Description

In this course we will examine comics and graphic novels through a literary lense to gain a better understanding of how this modern form of literature adapts, rewrites, and appropriates myths and legends from cultures across the world. Through a series of semi-formal blog posts, in-class discussions, and four short response papers, you will be challenged to apply what you know about pop culture to your writing to create not only entertaining, but also engaging literary analyses on the comics and graphic novels that resonate with you the most. As we make our way through the course, we will work together to investigate the following critical questions as a way of focusing and developing our understanding of genre and medium:

  • How have comics/graphic novels reshaped what we consider literature?
  • Why do visual mediums such as comics and graphic novels continue to capture our attention as critical and recreational readers?
  • Why are so many comics and graphic novels based on myths and legends from a variety of cultures?
  • What are the consequences/implications of (re)producing myths and legends for a mass audience?

In addition to learning how to read comics and graphic novels with a critical eye for detail, you will also be introduced to foundational literary and comics studies theories in order to build the vocabulary needed to discuss and digest the texts you will encounter in this course. Reading, writing, and learning is a process, and I, therefore, encourage you to explore and experiment as we progress through the semester. Ultimately, the activities, discussions, and assignments completed in this course should push you to become more critical, self-aware, and reflective writers and consumers of pop culture.

*As the instructor, I reserve the right to change the syllabus and course schedule as I see fit throughout the semester. Students will be informed in-class and via e-mail of any and all changes made.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Augment their knowledge of how literature is organized by historical periods, genres, cultures, and cultural formations.
  • Improve their ability to ask questions of and to read, analyze, and interpret complex literary texts, using relevant literary terminology critically and creatively.
  • Improve their ability to express ideas by organizing and developing and supporting a description, analysis, or argument in written formats, within the conventions of academic writing.
  • Produce a significant amount of writing such as the course fulfills the requirements of its mandatory W Focus designation (i.e., 4,000 words).

Access to Technology

You will be required to have access to reliable and regular Internet/Wi-Fi sources and technological tools/devices (e.g. laptops, desktops, tablets, etc.) to successfully complete your work for this class. These devices should only be used for course related purposes (e.g. accessing the course website, accessing course readings/resources, researching material, etc.). Unless otherwise noted, cell phone usage is prohibited. If I see you using your cell phone, you will be asked to leave the class and will receive an absence for the day. Please turn off or silence all mobile devices before the start of class.

There are two main computer labs on campus (Sinclair Library & Hamilton Library) with over 115 computers that are free to access for all UHM students. Please see this link for more information on where to find these labs and their hours of operation.

You are also responsible for regularly checking your UHM e-mail and our WordPress site for any and all updates. You are responsible for downloading and/or printing out any materials posted to our WordPress site for that day’s class. Please note that parts of our WordPress site are password protected for privacy. The URL and password for our class website will be given out during the first day. DO NOT share this password or any of the course materials posted on our website with anyone outside of our ENG 271 course.

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, I also strongly suggest that you download Microsoft Word to complete your assignments, as I will only accept Word.doc or Word.docx files. A free student version of Microsoft Office, which also includes Word, is offered to all UHM students ( or If you’re having trouble with downloading Microsoft Word, please contact the UHM ITS Department for more information (808-956-8883 or

Required Texts (Available at Ala Moana Barnes & Nobles or Amazon)

You must be able to acquire all texts for this class in order to fully participate in discussions and write your response papers/blog posts. Due to the nature of the kinds of analysis we will be doing over the course of the semester, it is highly important that you purchase or borrow the assigned texts ASAP and bring them with you on the days that you are instructed to do so. Failure to bring your texts to class on the days you are assigned more than 3 times will result in a penalty to your grade.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art – Scott McCloud (Amazon $8.49 used & $12.31 to $14.48 new; Barnes & Nobles $15.74)

*There will be at least FOUR to FIVE additional comics that you must purchase for this class, however that booklist will be determined collaboratively with you and your peers during the first week of the Fall 2018 semester. Please check this description later for more updates.

Additional readings will also be posted to our WordPress site. You are responsible for checking our WordPress site to access, download, and/or print the required readings. Should I feel that the class, as a collective, is not keeping up with the readings, I will begin giving pop quizzes, which will then be factored into your final grades.

(Tentative) Course Assignments:

To pass this course, you must complete ALL of the following assignments:

10% – Attendance, Active Class Participation, & Reading Pop Quizzes

15% – Midterm Exam

15% – x3 Guided Close Reading Essay (800 words each + 200 word Grade Justification, 5% per paper) submitted via e-mail following the Submission Guideline Requirements for our class

20% – x8 Blog Posts (400 words each, 2.5% per post)

40% – Final Project

  • 5% – Final Project Creative Writing Component (500 words)
  • 5% – Final Project Presentation (5 minutes)
  • 30% – Final Project Paper/Web Essay (1,500 words – 1,000 words of polished prosed & 500 words of metacommentary)

More detailed descriptions of each assignment are available on our WordPress site.