English and Philosophy Department
Dr. Mary Paniccia Carden
Edinboro University’s English and Philosophy Department took a major step in a fresh direction this semester with the introduction of Graphic Novel Workshop. The new course, along with Advanced Graphic Novel Writing, planned for the fall 2017 semester, comprise part of a revision of the Bachelor of Arts in English – Writing that went into effect at the beginning of the spring 2015 semester.
“Several students in earlier academic years had proposed and written graphic novels in the major’s capstone course, Thesis Seminar in Writing,” said Professor John Repp, who is teaching the course. “During conversations with students both in and outside of classes, writing faculty noticed that many students read graphic novels and some had tried their hand at the form.”
A graphic novel is a book that employs comic-like drawings to tell its story. It is considered more of a format and not a genre, allowing for the story to be fiction, non-fiction, history, fantasy, an anthology and more. It is distinguished from a comic book in that it is published as a singular piece rather than a periodical.
The course represents another example of the interdisciplinary collaboration EU has been championing among its academic departments. (The national recognitions earned by the University’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science – Game and Virtual World Development program, which merges a computer science education with a required art component consisting of classes in three-dimensional design, traditional animation and computer animation, showcases another recent interdisciplinary success story.)
“When the course was under development, we consulted with Michele Vitali, professor of art and head of the illustration program. During the next few semesters, as Graphic Novel Workshop gets offered again (during spring 2017) and Advanced Graphic Novel Writing gets offered for the first time (fall 2017), we plan to structure collaborations between Writing and Illustration majors,” Repp continued.
For students in Edinboro’s English-Writing program, the new course offers an opportunity to expand their creative horizons.
“I always had dreams of doing a web-comic for fun, and I actually attempted it several times. The problem I always ran into – aside from lack of audience and time to draw – was that I never had a complete story,” said Kathlyn Longtine, an EU English-Writing major. “Scripting comic pages has been a mystery to me, and so I hope to unravel that mystery in this class and add another form of writing to my repertoire.”
Offering his writing students a new and exciting outlet to explore and develop their creativity seems to have been Prof. Repp’s overriding ambition.
“We’ll talk a great deal about the visual representation possible/necessary to fully realize students’ scripts. Our courses are strictly writing courses, and focus on developing substantial and systematic skill in constructing compelling stories,” Repp concluded of his intentions for the course.