Borders in Graphic Novels
In most comic books and graphic novels, borders are crossed on every page: drawings are contained within frames and within them text and images are fused. The constant blurring of textual and visual borders is one of the medium‘s defining characteristics and makes graphic novels ideally suited to investigating the formal and thematic crossings, and transgressions, of boundaries of all kinds. Reading works from different national and linguistic backgrounds we will meander across a variety of borders this summer – political (Israel/Palestine), cultural (Germany/Japan), anthropological (humans/animals), ecological (human kind/nature), and social (generational divides) – as well as a variety of genres (graphic novels as Westerns, as Fantasy, as Journalism, as Memoir). National and cultural border scenarios represented range from the description of the contested regions of Gaza in Joe Sacco‘s Palestine to the political and cultural isolation of North Korea in Guy Delisle‘s Pyongyang. In two mangas, the class will explore the articulation of borders between genders in Takako Shimura‘s Wandering Son and between life forms in Hayao Miyazaki's post-apocalyptic Nausicaä. Two bandes dessinées will provide a glimpse of the unique and popular French/Belgium style of graphic novels. The quarter will be bookended by two meta-comics on how to understand the limitations and extraordinary advantages of the art form. Questions encountered along the way include how comics and graphic novels redefine, uphold, or challenge the traditional border between text and images in literature, which formal and stylistic strategies graphic novel artists employ and how they differ from those of novelists and film makers, and how examining borders in graphic novels can hone our recognition and understanding of the presence of borders in a globalized yet immigration- and migration-phobic world.