Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

CCOG for ENG 220 Summer 2022

View archive version »
Course Number:
ENG 220
Course Title:
Literature of Comics and Graphic Novels
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Explores comics and graphic novels. Examines the complex relationship between images and the written word when combined in narrative forms. Considers cultural, political, and/or artistic elements of a variety of examples of the form. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 or equivalent placement. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course explores those comics and graphic novels that transcend the aging assumption that "books with pictures are for kids." Though graphic novels can often be described as more "accessible" than traditional novels, this doesn't mean they are necessarily less complex. When an author effectively combines images with a written narrative--and doesn't resort to mere illustration-- the result is a multi-layered work that illuminates the reader's imagination from multiple angles. Learning to describe how and why a visual story captures our hearts and minds enhances our ability to immerse ourselves into its world.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Analyze a work’s use of aesthetic and rhetorical strategies.
  2. Compare and contrast the ways traditional literary elements operate when deployed in a graphic novel.
  3. Identify the cultural, political, and/or artistic inferences and assumptions that inform a reader’s perception of a story.
  4. Write clear, focused, coherent essays that explicate for an academic audience the complexity of comics and graphic novels, using standard English conventions of grammar and style.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

English and Writing courses align with the PCC General Education philosophy by providing an appreciation of writing and literature from global and personal perspectives. Students in English courses engage the imagination, critical inquiry and self‐reflection, and in the process of doing so, cultivate a more complex understanding of their own culture(s), linguistic/communication practices, and perspectives in relation to others. Because the literary arts lie at the heart of most human cultures, they are essential for understanding each other and navigating our differences. In literature classes, students explore significant texts from diverse cultures and periods in history. Students look closely at texts from a range of genres, articulating the way elements of writing, content, form, and style are interrelated, and considering how values and interpretations have changed over time and through different theoretical lenses. Students engage texts through critical analysis and creative response, learning to use evidence to support their interpretations and to navigate critical conversations. Students explore literature both as an art form designed to provoke thought and challenge social norms, and as an expression of human experience. Writing and Literature courses foster a stronger sense of engagement with history, culture, and society. Writing and Literature students develop an awareness of themselves as readers and writers in a global world, and an enlarged understanding of the relationships between language, identity, ideas, scholarship, communication, and transformation.

Aspirational Goals

-To remember (or perhaps learn for the first time) the pure joy of immersive reading.

-To learn to read with a relaxed yet intentional approach.

-To move past the fear that analyzing a work of art will squelch its magic.

Course Activities and Design

Class meetings might consist of a variety of approaches, such as:


Class discussions

In-class analysis of specific panels

Individual reading assignments

Reading journal


Guest lectures

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies might consist of a variety of approaches, such as:

Reading journals


Individual and/or group presentations

Creative writing assignments

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


• Setting

• Plot
• Character
• Point of view
• Narrative styles
• Symbolism
• Imagery
• Interdependence
• Gender
• Race
• Political and social history




• Analysis 
• Synthesis
• Understand various texts through social, political, artistic, and other contexts
• Write clearly about literary elements ( theme, structure, tone, etc.) found in a work

• Articulate close readings of a dense work

• Speak and listen reflectively