LIBR 271A-01
LIBR 271A-10
Genres and Topics in Youth Literature
Topic: Graphic Novels
Spring 2013 Greensheet

Gail de Vos
Other contact information: While the best method to contact me is on the course site or by email, you are welcome to call at 1-780-797-3949. (MST).
Office location: Online
Office Hours: TBA

Greensheet Links
D2L Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

D2L Information: This course will be available beginning January 23, 2012. You will be enrolled into the site automatically. I will send more information about course access as we approach this date through MySJSU.

Course Description

This course examines the history and contemporary reality of comic book publishing and readership in Canada, Great Britain, Japan and the United States and issues related to perception of the format by educators, librarians, and readers. Focus on collection development, censorship concerns and challenges, gender issues in readership and in content, genres, and the imact of the Internet.

Course Requirements

Course Assignments
This course requires a variety of assignments designed to introduce students to the concepts covered in class and in the text, as well as to practical applications of methods.  Students will work individually and participate in group discussions on D2L.

Students accumulate 100 points to determine the course grade.  See Grading below for details.  Details for the assignments are given below. Any queries on the assignments are welcome by your instructor. If they are general questions, please post them in the appropriate section on the discussion board; if they are specific to you, please send your query to your instructor by e-mail.

  • Read and Reacts
    25 points (5 points for each submission)

    In addition to the required reading of fiction and the class lecture notes, you are expected to read 5 additional articles from those offered by your instructor specifically for this assignment and write a read and reaction to them. A selection of five articles will be make available a week prior to each due date. The submissions must be made by midnight Wednesday beginning Feb. 6, 2013. (Other dates: March 6, April 3, April 17 & May 1).

    Write at least a 250 word summary and a 250 word reaction for each of the articles you select. In your reaction use phrases such as "I think" or "I feel" etc. Try to personalize your reaction. It should not be a rehash of her summary but it should addresss points covered in the article. Please be as ardent as possible with your answer.

    Late submissions will not be marked. Each one will be worth 5 marks for a total of 25. They will be marked on clarity of expression and demonstration of critical thinking as well as passion. Do not worry about the instructor's own thoughts, just be sure that you understand your own position and express your thoughts well and provide subtantiation for your opinions (that is, avoid generalizations). A marking schema is available on the home page of the course site. (Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9)
  • Virtual Seminar
    30 points (15 points for the content of the seminar, 12 points for the handling of the seminar itself, 3 points for a brief evaluation of the experience sent to the instructor within a week of completion of the seminar.) Marks will be distributed once all of the seminars have been completed.

    Each student will select a topic from the list below or from the course material itself that has not been discussed in any detail on the discussion site, research it, and post their findings on the conference site. They will then lead the rest of the class through a discussion of that topic and research. There will be no duplication of topics, so please register your choice with your instructor as soon as possible by mail. I will keep a current listing in the “Virtual Seminar Topics” in the forum on Discussion of Assignments. Please select the date you would like to run the seminar. They will begin on a Monday (the individual seminar forums will be created the previous Sunday for your convenience) and run for that week with the seminar leader monitoring the discussion. (Seminar leaders may request permission from their classmates to adjust the timing of their seminar to include Saturday.) The seminar forums will remain open without monitoring for further discussion throughout the duration of the course. (Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9)

    Topics for the virtual seminar assignment: These are just suggestions. Please feel free to follow your interests but do pass them by your instructor before finalizing your choice.
    • How is manga different from western comics?
    • What ways do you think that manga and anime have influenced North American comics, animation and popular culture?
    • Classics Illustrated. Compare the contemporary Classics illustrated with the early versions. Are they faithful adaptations? Do they lose their literary quality? Does the artwork compensate for the loss of the words? Etc.
    • Marketing comics and graphic novels to female readers. How, why and what?
    • Crossover comics: The appearance of a major character on another character’s home field. The first crossover occurred in Marvel Mystery #8, with a clash between the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. Are these crossovers common? Why and how do they exist?
    • Discuss the Archie Publication phenomenon and the Archie website in relationship to literacy and learning.
    • Collecting Comics: a help or hinder to the industry? What does it mean for library collections?
    • Giveaways: The earliest comic books were giveaways of comic strip reprints, as Max Gaines sold such companies as Canada Dry, Kinney Shoes, and Procter & Gamble on the idea of distributing premiums. More recently, comic books were given away, or sold for a nominal price at MacDonald’s and other places. Free Comic Book Day in North America has become an annual event. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these “gimmicks?”
    • Webcomics.
    • Comics to films
    • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: Why do comic book artists and retailers need protection? What are they afraid of?
    • Alan Moore
    • Sandman by Neil Gaiman
    • Maus by Spiegelman
    • Review resources for comics and graphic novels
  • Comic Book Publisher and Annotated Bibliography Assignment
    30 points (Due midnight March 20, 2013)

    Choose a comic book publisher and give a brief overveiw of the publishing history, the types of mateirals that are published and the suitablity of the material for the library of your choice (school, public, academic etc). Discuss any awards or distinctions that have been earned as well as any controversial elements that you  may have noted. Also include information on the accessiblity of the publisher for the lay person as well as the library professional (websites, blogs, social network presence, inclusion in Previews etc.) Self publishing houses are eligible for this assignment as long as they have published at least six distinct titles (not all in one series, for example).

    The purpose of this assignment is to have the students work with selection and reviewing tools and to explore the possiblities of access to publishers of graphic novels, and to evaluate the graphic novels themselves. There will be no duplication of publishers. Please register your choice of publisher with your instructor as soon as possible. Once confirmed, I will maintain a listing of selected publishers on the course site. There is no required format for your assignment other than it must be able to be posted on this discussion site to share with your classmates in the appropriate forum (or linked to a website or other presentation stored outside of the course site). (Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7)
    • Select five titles published by your chosen publisher and supply a short plot summary and concise evaluation (no longer thant 250 words for each title). Graphic novels in your reading list are not eligible for this assignment although the publishers of the materials are definitely a good starting point.
    • Also consider if ther are reviews for thise titles? If so, do you feel that they are adequate. Please include the citations for at least two reviews (if applicable) with your annotations.
    • Choose a sixth title from your publishers and evaluate it according to the criteria discussed in the class material and the concepts listed below. Please cover these concepts in any order or format that is appropriate for the central thought of your evaluation. Please register your selection of this title on the discussion site in “selections for evaluation” as soon as possible. There will be no duplication of titles for evaluation. Please supply a short plot summary and concise evaluation (no longer than 250 words) for the nine other titles in your list. Are there reviews available for these titles? If so, do you feel that they are adequate? Please include the citations for at least two reviews (if available) with your annotations.
      1. Who created the work and why?
        1. Relevant personal history of the creator(s)
        2. Artistic influences
        3. What they were attempting to achieve
      2. Is the work significant in the history of the medium? Why?
      3. Discuss how meaning is developed in the work?
        1. How does encapsulation (breaking down the narrative into panels) contribute to the meaning?
        2. How does composition (elements within the panels) contribute to the meaning?
          1. Signs (icon, index, symbol)
          2. Color/shading
          3. “Cinematic” elements (lighting, distance, angle)
          4. Style
        3. How does layout (arrangement of panels on the page) contribute to the   meaning?
        4. How does closure (meaning created by the combination of panels) contribute to the meaning?
      4. What is your personal response to this title? Why did you select it for evaluation?
  • Class participation
    15 points

    Students will participate on D2L, Blackboard Collaborate sessions, and in response to student presentations.  (Outcomes 1-9)

Course Calendar

Tentative Schedule (subject to change)

  • Jan 23 (Week 1)
    • Introduction to class
    • Overview of comic books, graphic novels, manga
    • Selection of topics and titles for the virtual seminar and publisher assignments
  • Jan. 30 (Week 2)
    • Comic Book Fandom
    • Comic Book Culture
    • Perception of Comic books and graphic novels (general public)
    • Schedule all presentations
    • Book Discussion: Arrival (TAn)
  • Feb. 6 (Week 3)
    • History of comic books in Canada, United States, Great Britain, Japan
    • Book Discussion: Owly (Runton)
    • Book Discussion: Influencing Machine (Gladstone)
    • Read and React #1
  • Feb. 13 (Week 4)
    • Book Discussion: Bone (Smith)
    • Mechanics of Comic Books
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (1-3)
  • Feb. 20 (Week 5)
    • Book Discussion: Smile (Telgemeirer)
    • Discussion of Genres and Subgenres
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (4-6)
  • Feb. 27 (Week 6))
    • Book Discussion:Superhero title (ONE of Gotham Central; Superman: Red Son OR Infinity Gauntlet)
    • Discussion of Themes and age appropriateness
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (7-9)
  • March 6 (Week 7)
    • Book Discussion: Anya's Ghost (Brosgol)
    • Awards in the comic book world and the book world in general (including the graphic novel format);
    • Comic Books and Awards: do they make a difference?
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (10-12)
    • Read and React #2
  • March 13 (Week 8)
    • Book Discussion: Friends with Boys (Hicks)
    • Discussion of Comic books in the library: Collection development and selection policies for graphic novel collections
  • March 20 (Week 9)
    • Book Discussion on Essex County (Lemire)
    • Discussion of Comic books in the library: access issues
    • Publisher Assignment due March 20
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (13-15)
  • April 3 (Week 10)
    • Book Discussion:Sailor Twain
    • Discussion of Comic books in the library: comic books and education
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (16-18)
    • Read and React # 3
  • April 10 (Week 11)
    • Book Discussion on Manga of choice
    • Discussion of Manga and anime
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (19-21)
  • April 17 (Week 12)
    • Book Discussion: Tale of Sand (Henson)
    • Discussion of comic books and other elements of popular culture
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (22-24)
    • Read and React # 4
  • April 24 (Week 13)
    • Book Discussion on Skim (Tamaki)
    • Discussion of comic book publishers and mainstream publishers
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (25-27)
  • May 1 (Week 14)
    • Book Discussion on Persepolis (Satrapi)
    • Discussion of the portrayal of other cultures (from the inside out)
    • Student presentations: Virtual Seminars (28-30)
    • Read and React # 5
  • May 8 (Week 15)
    • Book Discussion on Fun Home
    • Discussion of censorship issues

Course Grading

Students accumulate 100 points to determine the course grade.

Read and Reacts
25 points
Virtual Seminar 30 points
Publisher Assignment & Annotated Bibliography 30 points
Class Participation 15 points

Note: the marks for the book discussions and virtual seminars will not be distributed until all of the assignments have been completed. Late penalites will apply for the annotated bibliography but lateness for the other two assignments will not be tolerated. Your instructor is somewhat flexible if deadlines must be adjusted for the first two assigments if absolutely necessary.

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

LIBR 200LIBR 260Aor LIBR 261A

Student Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of social and cultural trends in literature for children and/or young adults.
  2. Critically examine representative materials designed for the child and young adult including books, television, movies, and the Internet.
  3. Apply criteria to evaluate resources in relation to child or YA developmental needs, multicultural concerns, and the ability to meet the informational and recreational needs of this age group.
  4. Create an appropriate materials collection for the age group selected including print and nonpoint materials.
  5. Analyze established policies and recommendations for high quality educational facilities and collections for children.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 271A supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Recognize and describe cultural and economic diversity in the clientele of libraries or information organizations.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital items and collections.
  3. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.
  4. M Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for professional collaboration and presentations.


Required Textbooks:

  • Bechdel, A. (2006). Fun home: A family tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Available through Amazon: 0618477942 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Brosgol, V. (2011). Anya's ghost. New York: First Second. Available through Amazon: 1596435526 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Gladstone, B., & Neufeld, J. (2011). The influencing machine. New York, NY: Norton. Available through Amazon: 0393077799arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Henson, J. , Juhl, J., & Perez, R. (2011). Jim Henson's tale of sand. Chicago, IL: Archaia. Available through Amazon: 1936393093arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Hicks, F. E. (2012). Friends with boys. New York, NY: First Second. Available through Amazon: 1596435569arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Lemire, J. (2009). The complete essex county. New York: Top Shelf. Available through Amazon: 160309038X arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Runton, A. (2004). Owly vol 1: The way home & the bittersweet summer. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf. Available through Amazon: 1891830627 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis: The story of a childhood. New York: Pantheon. Available through Amazon: 0375422307 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Siegel, M. (2012). Sailor Twain: Or: The mermaid in the Hudson. New York, NY: First Second. Available through Amazon: 1596436360arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Smith, J. (2005). Bone, vol. 1: Out from boneville. New York: Scholastic. Available through Amazon: 0439706408 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Tamaki, M. & Tamaki, J. (2008). Skim. Toronto, ON: Groundwood. Available through Amazon: 0888997531 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Tan, S. (2006). The arrival. New York: Arthur A. Levine. Available through Amazon: 0439895294 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Telgemeier, R. (2010). Smile. New York: Scholastic. Available through Amazon: arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Brubaker, E., Rucka, G., & Lark, M. (2008). Gotham central, book one: In the line of duty. Burbank, CA: DC Comics. Available through Amazon: 1401219233arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Milller, M. (2004). Superman: Red son. Burbank, CA: DC Comics. Available through Amazon: 1401201911arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Starlin, J. (2012). The infinity gauntlet. Burbank, CA: Marvel. Available through Amazon: 0785156593arrow 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;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — 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 the following semester. 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.

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

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.