Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Submitted for Your Approval: Syllabus for ENGLISH 4717/5717: WATCHMEN!

with one comment

Since a lot of people have been interested in it, and I’m still trying to figure it all out, here’s the preliminary schedule for my Watchmen class this fall. This one will be an all-online class, as that’s the modality I’m in this semester; I’m using an S/S/A schedule where we do MW class sessions synchronously and F class sessions asynchronously. Most of the Friday classes are in the “sandbox” mode described here, some with suggested prompts and some completely open. The class has 30 people in it, so those synchronous sessions may need to break up to 15 and 15; I want to give it a try with the whole group for a week or two before I switch. Final assignment is a long paper or creative/curational project with at least some connection to Watchmen, comics, or American cultural studies, very, very broadly conceived…

Any and all suggestions welcome! I missed the first COVID semester due to my sabbatical so this is all still a bit new to me. I’m excited though: this class started in my mind as a lark and now I think it’s going to be one of the best syllabi I’ve ever planned.

101 MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title:  Watchmen
Fulfills English Major Requirement:  Post-1900, American Literature

Course Description: This course surveys the history, reception, and artistic form of comics and graphic narrative in the United States, with primary exploration of a single comic miniseries that has had a massive influence on the comics industry and on the way we think about superheroes: Alan Moore and David Gibbons’s Watchmen (1986-1987)This semester ENGLISH 4717 will function almost like a single-novel “Text in Context” course; after grounding ourselves in the pre-1980s history of American superhero comics over the first few weeks of the course, we will focusing almost exclusively on Watchmen and its long afterlife in prequel comics, sequel comics, parody comics, homages, critiques, film adaptations, and, most recently, the critically acclaimed HBO sequel series (2019-2020). What has made Watchmen so beloved, so controversial, and so very influential on the larger superhero-industrial-entertainment complex? Why has DC Comics returned to Watchmen again and again, even as one of its original creators has distanced himself further and further from the work? What have different creators done, or tried to do, with the complex but self-contained narrative framework originally constructed by Moore and Gibbons? With superheroes and superhero media more globally hegemonic than ever before, what might Watchmen still have to say to us today?

Assignments: Class participation, including individual and group presentations; weekly reading journal; discussion posts; several out-of-class film screenings; one long seminar paper or creative/curational project

W Aug 26 S FIRST DAY OF CLASS

Introduction to the Course

A Brief Prehistory of Comics

F Aug 28 A Sandbox: Jim Henley, “Gaudy Nights” [Web]
M Aug 31 S The Golden Age of Comics

Action Comics #1

Selections from Wonder Woman

W Sep 2 S The Silver Age

Superboy #1 [D2L]

Umberto Eco, “The Myth of Superman” [D2L]

excerpts from David Hadju’s The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic- Book Scare and How It Changed America and Qiana Q. Whitted, EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest [D2L]

F Sep 4 A Sandbox: The Marvel Explosion

Fantastic Four #1, Tales of Suspense #39, X-Men #1, and Hulk #1

M Sep 7   LABOR DAY—NO CLASS
W Sep 9 S The Bronze Age

Saul Braun, “Shazam! Here Comes Captain Relevant” [D2L]

Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76, Amazing Spider-Man #121 and Iron Man #128 [D2L]

Spencer Ackerman, “Iron Man vs. the Imperialists” [D2L]

Gail Simone, “Women in Refrigerators” [web]

F Sep 11 A Sandbox: Marc Singer, “‘Black Skins’ and White Masks: Comic Books and the Secret of Race” [D2L]
M Sep 14 S The Dark Age

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen (1986-1987), #1-3

W Sep 16 S Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen (1986-1987), #4-6
F Sep 18 A Sandbox
M Sep 21 S Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen (1986-1987), #7-9

Anna C. Marshall, “Not So Revisionary: The Regressive Treatment of Gender in Alan Moore’s Watchmen” [D2L]

W Sep 23 S Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen (1986-1987), #10-12

Matthew Wolf-Meyer, “Utopias in the Superhero Comic, Subculture, and the Conservation of Difference” [D2L]

F Sep 25 A Sandbox: Watchmen sequel pitch session
M Sep 28 S Watchmen (dir. Zack Snyder, 2009)

Graham J. Murphy, “‘On a More Meaningful Scale’: Marketing Utopia in Watchmen” [D2L]

Jacob Brogan, “Stop/Watch: Repressing History, Adapting Watchmen” [D2L]

W Sep 30 S Andrew Hoberek, Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics (excerpts) [D2L]

Kieron Gillen and Caspar Wijingaard, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt

Alan Moore interviews (excerpts) [D2L]

F Oct 2 A Sandbox: Watchmen criticism survey
M Oct 5 S The Nostalgia Age?

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, All-Star Superman (first half)

W Oct 7 S Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, All-Star Superman (second half)
F Oct 9 A Sandbox: Watchmen vs. the MCU
M Oct 12 S Natacha Bustos, Amy Reeder, and Brandon Montclare, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: The Beginning (first half)
W Oct 14 S Natacha Bustos, Amy Reeder, and Brandon Montclare, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: The Beginning (second half)
F Oct 16   FALL BREAK—NO CLASS

PROJECT PROPOSAL DUE FRIDAY NIGHT 5 PM

M Oct 19 S Before Watchmen (2012-2013): Minutemen and Silk Spectre
W Oct 21 S Before Watchmen (2012-2013): Dr. Manhattan
F Oct 23 A Sandbox
M Oct 26 S Doomsday Clock (2017-2019), Book One
W Oct 28 S Doomsday Clock (2017-2019), Book Two
F Oct 30 A Sandbox
M Nov 2 S Watchmen (HBO 2019-2020), episode 1
W Nov 4 S Watchmen (HBO 2019-2020), episodes 2-3

interview with Damon Lindelof [Web]

F Nov 6 A Sandbox
M Nov 9 S Watchmen (HBO 2019-2020), episodes 4-5

interview with Lila Byock [Web]

W Nov 11 S Watchmen (HBO 2019-2020), episode 6

interview with Cord Jefferson [Web]

thinkpieces by Emily Nussbaum, Jamelle Bouie, Jorge Cotte, Jaime Omar Yassin, and others [Web]

F Nov 13 A Sandbox
M Nov 16 S Watchmen (HBO 2019-2020), episodes 7-8
W Nov 18 S Watchmen (HBO 2019-2020), episode 9

Aaron Bady, “Dr. Manhattan Is a Cop: Watchmen and Frantz Fanon” [Web]

Leslie Lee, “Whitewashing Watchmen” [Web]

Alyssa Rosenberg, “If HBO makes a second season of ‘Watchmen…” [Web]

F Nov 20 A Sandbox: Watchmen season two pitch session
M Nov 23 S Rorschach #1 (2020)

LAST DAY OF CLASS

Th Dec 3

12:30 PM

FINAL PAPER/PROJECT DUE IN D2L DROPBOX

FINAL REFLECTION DUE IN THE D2L FORUMS

 

Written by gerrycanavan

July 29, 2020 at 3:34 pm

One Response

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  1. A student suggested PETER CANNON: THUNDERBOLT as a third contemporary text and I think it really works well, so that is getting slotted in to go with the excerpt from Andrew’s book….

    gerrycanavan

    July 30, 2020 at 6:15 pm


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