English 430: Literature & the Visual Arts

November 9, 2009

English 333: Comics & Graphic Novels

Filed under: About CSUN,Hype — charleshatfield @ 5:18 pm

Jim Woodring's ambiguous anthromorph Frank slumbers on a Jiva

Jim Woodring's FRANK takes a nap

Hype alert!

English 333: Comics & Graphic Novels

Spring 2010, Class #13156, Mondays & Wednesdays, 2:00 to 3:15pm

Prof. Charles Hatfield

In Spring 2010, the CSUN English Department will once again offer English 333, its survey course in comics, including comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels. This course will introduce the analysis of comics as a storytelling medium, an art form, and an aspect of culture. Students in 333 will practice analyzing (and using!) comics’ unique means of communication; will learn about the history of comics, especially the modern graphic novel; and will read some of the best work in comics, both classic and contemporary.

AUTHORS to be studied will likely include Carl Barks, Lynda Barry, R. Crumb, Will Eisner, Justin Green, Los Bros Hernandez, George Herriman, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Winsor McCay, Rutu Modan, Alan Moore, Harvey Pekar, Art Spiegelman, Tezuka Osamu, Carol Tyler, Chris Ware, Jim Woodring, and others. We’ll be reading some very recent stuff, and some classics; much North American work and some European and Japanese work; some long works and some short ones; a lot of comics and a bit of comics theory.

REQUIREMENTS will include strong participation; regular postings to an online forum; a creative (comics-making) project; two short (3-5 page) papers requiring argument and analysis; and a final exam, including a take-home portion and an in-class portion.

For more information, contact Prof. Charles Hatfield at charles dot hatfield at csun dot edu.

August 27, 2009

Regarding the budget crisis and furlough days

Filed under: About CSUN — charleshatfield @ 8:45 pm

What do you think?

You’ve heard the old saying about living in “interesting” times? Well, times sure are interesting for the state of California and the Cal State University system. We are now in crisis mode.

Let me explain:

For the past decade the CSU has suffered chronic and serious underfunding; dwindling state support for education has made it harder and harder for the CSU to fulfill the vision of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education. This year, because of the general economic crisis, the budget cuts to the CSU are very, very severe, some $584 million, in fact the worst in decades. CSUN’s share of these cuts is reportedly about $41 million, which is somewhere between 20 and 24 percent of our operating budget.

The CSU is attempting to manage these cuts by dramatically hiking up student fees and by furloughing almost all University employees, including faculty, staff, and administrators. A furlough day is a mandatory, un-paid day off for employees. There will be 18 of these furlough days this coming year for the faculty (nine per semester). Some of these days will be costing time in the classroom.

For students this means that on some days the campus will be closed. On some days the level of staff support will be reduced to a bare minimum. The library will have shorter hours; many campus support services will be decreased or chopped. For example, it will become more difficult to get signatures in order to meet deadlines. Additionally, many classes you need may be cut from class schedules (both Fall and Spring) or will be full. Obviously, these cuts have serious consequences, for you, for all of us.

To meet the demands of the furlough plan, I’ve been forced to pick nine furlough days this term. Of necessity, I’ve had to cancel several days of class; however, 430 has largely been spared because of its once-a-week, Thursday night schedule. I will be canceling just one session of 430, and that is due to the difficulty of finding a substitute when I travel to Chicago to take part (as I have since 1997) in running the International Comic Arts Forum. That day (Oct. 15) is marked on our calendar.

In all, this term I will have nine workdays, in and out of class, for which I am not being paid. I’ve been told that I must reduce my “workload” on those days. That would include grading, correspondence, etc. Ouch.

Furlough days are not holidays, and I do not take them willingly. They shortchange our work together. Such furloughs are a concrete example of how budget cuts have consequences for education. Among these consequences may be delays in answering your email and phone messages (I’ve been instructed not to answer them on my furlough days), decreased use of comments when responding to and grading your papers, and reductions in office hours. I’ve already decreased the number of assignments and readings our class will be doing. Many teachers across campus are implementing similar cuts, though not by free choice. In addition, you’ve probably noticed the decrease in available classes and the new, stricter regulations governing add/drop and overenrollment. Some of you may face additional obstacles to graduati0n as a result. This after a net 32 percent increase in CSU student fees since last year!

Please talk to your fellow students and your teachers about what is happening. If you want to get directly involved in fighting the fee hikes and budget and service cuts, seek out Students for a Quality Education – they’ve been working the tent in front of the Oviatt all week, and will be continuing to advocate and demonstrate and make noise. Don’t go gently into this; make a row!

Interesting times, indeed.

Some online resources you may find useful are:

You may also find informative this L.A. Times article from July 31 (here reprinted on a CSUN blog).

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