INFO 281-13
Seminar in Contemporary Issues: Graphic Novels for Teens
Summer 2022 Syllabus

Lisa Houde
Mobile: Locate this in our Canvas course site
Office Hours: Optional Zoom hours offered most weekends and always available via email, text, or phone

Syllabus Links

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Canvas Information: This one-unit course opens on July 6, 2022, at 6 AM Pacific and runs through August 2. Weekly topics begin on Wednesdays. Note that while August 2 marks the end of the course, two due dates will fall after August 2; see below for details.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically; all interactions for the class will be in Canvas.

Course Description

This course will explore graphic novels for young adults in libraries through the lens of history, current offerings, justification for use in education and the library, intellectual freedom, and diversity and inclusivity. Fundamentals of collection development and programming in the library will be explored. Defining graphic novels as a unique literary format as well as reading, annotating, and critiquing multiple genres will provide students will a well-rounded foundation in graphic novels for teens. 

Course Requirements and Information

How to Reach Me

I encourage emails, texts, or phone calls. Additionally, I’ll be holding optional weekend office hours based on student interest, and I’m also happy to schedule individual Zoom sessions. I typically respond quite quickly, but certainly within 24 hours unless I’ve otherwise indicated a need to extend that timeframe. Preferred contact times are 6 AM to 6 PM Pacific.

Weekly Topics



Module 1

Introductions, History, and Basics of Comics and Graphic Novels

Module 2

In Defense of Graphic Novels: Literary and Educational Merit

Module 3

Collection Development and Programming Fundamentals

Module 4

Intellectual Freedom, Censorship, and Equity, Diversity, Inclusion

Assignment and Discussion Post Due Dates (subject to change with fair notice)


Grade Percentage

Due Dates

An Introductory Post + Four Discussion Posts & Responses


July 8; one response due July 10

July 12; one response due July 13

July 19; one response due July 20

July 26; one response due July 27

August 2; one response due August 3 (after official course end date)

McCloud Text Quiz

(open text & untimed; multiple attempts permitted)


July 16

Assign. #1 – Plan a Library Program Promoting Graphic Novels


July 29

Assign. #2 – Collaborative Annotated Bibliography & Student Resource Guide


August 6 (after official course end date)

Assignment Details

Students are expected to work independently on assignments, and graduate-level writing is expected.  Students will complete assignments and discussion posts that demonstrate the ability to research carefully, cite appropriately, and show the ability to connect these assignments to practical library applications.

Class Discussions

Students are expected to contribute to class discussions with substantive and thoughtful initial posts. Also, in order to enhance discussions, at least one thoughtful response to another student is required on the day following the initial post due date. In addition to the weekly topic, students will write briefly about a graphic novel they’re reading.

CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 / COMPS C, F, J

McCloud Quiz

Students will be assessed on their understanding of our course text including basic knowledge of the graphic novel format, vocabulary, and visual elements, as well as historical perspectives and theories presented by McCloud. Students may use the text while taking this untimed quiz; multiple attempts will be available to achieve mastery.


Assignment #1 – Plan a Library Program Promoting Graphic Novels
Students will create an in-depth, diverse, and inclusive library program for teens which promotes graphic novels; multiple elements will be required, including specific activities, budgeting, and marketing, as well as defense preparation.

CLOs 2, 4, 5 / COMPS C, F, J

Assignment #2 – Collaborative Annotated Bibliography
Students will choose ten titles from selected lists provided in Canvas and will write an APA-formatted annotated bibliographic entry including but not limited to a brief plot summary, and a critical analysis – which includes an examination of visual elements and author and illustrator intent as well as outlining components specific to that text which render it unique. Your assignment will be submitted through Canvas and will be added to a collaborative document which will be available for all students to access at the end of class.

CLOs 1, 3, 5 / COMPS C, F, J

Writing Standards

  • Written assignments are double-spaced using 12-Point Arial or Calibri
  • APA formatting required where noted; images and citations properly cited and referenced
  • Proofread all work (consider reading your work aloud; you'll be surprised how much more you catch!)
  • All submitted work is the sole product of the student

Extra Credit

There is no extra credit available in this course, but occasional additional points may be awarded for exemplary work.

Late Work Policy / Other Course Guidelines

Please be sure to back up your work as a preventative measure and retain copies of all assignments until the end of the semester.

Assignment due dates are easily viewed in this syllabus and in Canvas. Because this is a four-week course, no late work will be accepted.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 281 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Locate, evaluate, and use Internet resources that incorporate comic books and graphic novels.
  2. Evaluate and review published works.
  3. Articulate how comic books and graphic novels are a unique medium of communication and storytelling.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  3. J Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors and how they should be considered when connecting individuals or groups with accurate, relevant and appropriate information.


Required Textbooks:

  • McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics: The invisible art. Harper Perennial. Available through Amazon: 006097625X. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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