This course introduces participants to the study of comics and graphic narrative traditions in the Middle East. The genres and media covered include the comic strip, the graphic novel, the satirical cartoon or karikatir, graffiti, and Internet memes, with a focus on materials translated from Arabic and French. We will examine the work of artists and authors from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Iran, while also exploring connections to the graphic narrative traditions of Europe, the United States, and Japan. Though our focus remains on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, we will also investigate parallels between modern sequential art and premodern graphic narrative forms, such as books of mirabilia, illuminated manuscripts pertaining to various branches of knowledge, manuals on magic and the occult sciences, and the shadow play.
Students will develop a working critical vocabulary with which to discuss comics and related graphic forms both within the Middle East and beyond. In addition to studying the formal dimensions of these works, such as composition, style, and language, we will also examine their controversial role in society and politics. No previous knowledge of Middle Eastern languages or literatures is assumed. All readings in English.