Philip Nel > Courses > English 830: Image, Text Ideology: Picturebooks and Illustrated Texts (Fall 2003)
English 830: Image, Text, Ideology
Picturebooks and Illustrated Texts
Thurs., 2:05 p.m. - 4:25 p.m.
Eisenhower 228
Professor Philip Nel.
Office Phone: 532-2165.   Office: 208 Denison Hall.
Office Hours: Tues., 2:00-4:00 p.m. & by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours:
Syllabus last updated on Sunday, June 18, 2006.
Presentations/Leading Discussion and Schedule | Paper Assignment and Prospectus | Bulletin board

Required Texts | Objectives | Grading | Requirements | Bulletin Board | Schedule of Assignments | Recommended Resources
Required Texts:
        The seminar will examine the visual and verbal codes of illustrated works, as well as the relationship between these works and the conditions of their production. To do so, the course will ask three main questions. (1) What is an image? (2) How do images work? (3) What can we learn by reading about images from different perspectives? With respect to this last question, we'll read about the image from the perspective of a cartoonist teaching you how to draw cartoons, a picturebook illustrator explaining how picturebooks work, a literary critic theorizing the relationship between images and text, and so on. To answer the first two questions, we'll be reading the aforementioned analytical texts, as well as picturebooks, comics, and graphic novels.
        In this class, learning will not be a passive experience: I expect discussion, debate, and exchanges of ideas. This requires that you not only be present but that you be an active presence.

Class Participation &   



Electronic Bulletin Board    


Leading Class Discussion /     


In class, on day scheduled




In my office (Denison 208) by 12 noon, Dec. 8th.

Prospectus In my office (Denison 208) by 12 noon, Nov. 10th



Requirements: Paper | Presentation / Leading Class Discussion | Class Participation and Attendance | Computing | Assignments
        The goal of this class will be to develop an article-length paper (20-25 pp.). As you might expect, the paper must: be typed (preferably word-processed) and double-spaced; include a title, your name, and the date; and have numbered pages that are stapled or paper-clipped together. Late papers will be penalized one grade (e.g., B+ to C+) for each day late.
        Sources: Use the MLA method for documenting sources. Don't plagiarize. When you turn in a paper, you pledge that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources -- most grammar handbooks provide guidelines for documentation. Always remember: you must cite the sources of any ideas that are not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another's ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. If you have any questions, please ask. If you plagiarize, you will automatically fail this course. For more information on Kansas State University's Honor System, please visit <>.
        Presentation / Leading Class Discussion:
        Pairs of students will sign up either (A) to present some background material for one of our class sessions or (B) to initiate class discussion for one of our class sessions. Clicking on this sentence will lead you to the schedule. Presentations (10 minutes in length) should provide information which can encourage us to explore connections between the secondary readings and our assigned primary reading. Questions for class discussion (3-5 in number) should highlight issues or themes or queries you think we should address in our discussion of the reading assigned for that day. All presentation/leading class discussion topics are provided below, in the Schedule of Assignments. Please note: Students should meet with me in advance to confirm the focus of their presentation or leading class discussion. Students leading class discussions should email me their questions by 8 pm the night before. If sent as an attachment, the document should be Microsoft Word or rtf (Rich Text Format). Finally, everyone should read the Guidelines for Presentations and Leading Class Discussion.
        Class Participation and Attendance:
        Read everything, and come to class prepared to talk about what you have read. On the first day of class discussion for each assignment, you must have finished the reading and be ready to discuss it. By "the reading," I mean all of the text assigned for that day. "Recomended" texts are optional. This class will be based on discussion, so class participation is expected, and will count for 20% of your final grade. Discussion will take place both in class and out of it, via the Electronic Bulletin Board (explained below). I reserve the right to assign homework or in-class writing projects that are not listed on the syllabus.
        Although it shouldn't be necessary for me to say this, I'll say it anyway: Class attendance is required. Since the class meets once a week, you are granted one absence, but more than one will lower your final grade by one grade for each absence (e.g., B would become C). You cannot earn credit for work missed in class. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to discover what went on that day.
        Computing -- the Internet, the Electronic Bulletin Board, and Email:
        The Internet: For your reference, a hyperlinked version of this syllabus is on-line. Go to <> and click on "Courses." I have linked authors' names to relevant webpages, listed web and library resources, and provided links to information about the assignments.
        Electronic Bulletin Board: Post comments to the bulletin board once a week. An average posting should run about one or two paragraphs in length. In other words, your postings do not need to be long, but they must be substantive -- long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments, as appropriate. I will monitor these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness to both our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the bulletin board. You may respond to an existing thread of the conversation or initiate another; weekly postings will count towards your class participation grade. I may participate in these conversations, but I see the bulletin board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven't addressed -- or addressed fully or to your satisfaction -- during our regular class meetings. Though extra postings to the bulletin board will not automatically replace participation in our class discussions, regular contributions above and beyond your weekly posting can certainly improve your class participation grade.
        How to use the bulletin board:
  1. First, click on this sentence. If you receive a message like "Authorization Failed. Retry?" then click on "Retry."
  2. A window will pop up, asking for your username. Type engl830. (Be sure to use all lower-case letters.) Next, type in the password that I gave you in class.
  3. To see all the messages posted to date starting with the newest ones first, click on "Preferences" and set the options to "12 months" and "Mixed Threaded, Reversed." Click on the "View Messages Index" button. You should be able to see all the messages posted to the threaded bulletin board. (If a grey box pops up with the title "Security Information," just click "OK.")
  4. To post, choose to reply to a message or to post a new message. You will have to enter your name, your email address, and the subject of the message. You can preview your message before sending it; then, click "Post Message."
        Email: My email address is Please use the subject line. Due to the increased volume of spam, messages without clear subject lines will be deleted unread. If you need help establishing an email account and learning to use email, please visit the Office of Telecommunications at 109 East Stadium or <> to find out what you have to do. Although I do not require you to use email, I encourage you to use email as a way of touching base with me. You can write me with questions, send a thesis statement or outline for an essay, make an appointment to meet me in person, or do anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I tend to check email several times a day, but please keep in mind that I am not on-line at all times. You can access email at the various computer labs around campus: 21 Nichols Hall, 22-25 Seaton Hall, 1-1A Dickens Hall, and 325 Justin Hall and in some residence halls (visit <> and scroll down to "Computing Labs" for more details about resident hall labs).

Schedule of Assignments

Subject to Change

[CP1] = Class Pack, Part I. [CP2] = Class Pack, Part II. [R] = On Reserve (at Hale Library). [X] = Xerox (to be handed out in class). [W] = Web. * = Not in the library, so not required; I'll bring a copy into class.

August Th 21
Introduction. Molly Bang, Picture This (1991).
Recommended: Perry Nodelman, "Picture Books" (1996) [CP2]; Leo Lionni, Little Blue and Little Yellow (1959); Ann Jonas, The Trek (1985); Anthony Browne, Changes (1990); Allen Say, Grandfather's Journey (1993); Bryan Collier, Uptown (2000); Nina Payne, Four in All, illus. Adam Payne (2001).
Note: If you have a chance to read Molly Bang before class, that would be super. If not, then not -- it is the first day, after all
Th 28
What is an image? W.J.T. Mitchell, Introduction and Part One of Iconology (pp. 1-46); George Herbert, "Easter Wings" (1633); May Swenson, "Cardinal Ideograms" (1967); John Hollander, "Swan and Shadow" (1969); Howard Horowitz, "Manhattan" (1997); H.D. [Hilda Doolittle], "Sea Rose" & "Oriad" (1916); William Carlos Williams, "The Red Wheelbarrow" (1923) & "A Sort of Song" (1944); e.e. cummings, "l(a" (1958) [all CP1].
September Th 4
Image Versus Text; or, the Alice Variations. Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) & Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1872), illus. John Tenniel [both are in Norton edition of Alice].
Recommended: W.J.T. Mitchell, Part Two, Chapters Two and Three of Iconology (pp. 47-94); the Alice books as illustrated by others (Anthony Browne, Helen Oxenbury, Mervyn Peake, Robert Sabuda, Ralph Steadman, Lisbeth Zwerger, -- whatever you can find, really).
Th 11
Genre; or, Pictures Without Words. W.J.T. Mitchell, Chapter Four of Iconology (pp. 95-115); Lynd Ward, Gods' Man (1929) [CP1]; and two (or more) of the following: Mitsumasa Anno, Anno's Journey (1977)*; Jae Soo Liu, Yellow Umbrella (2001) [R]; David Wiesner, Free Fall (1988) [R], Tuesday (1991) [R]; Mercer Mayer, A Boy, A Dog, A Frog (1967)*; Istvan Banyai, Zoom (1995) [R].
Th 18
Image and Ideology. W.J.T. Mitchell, Part Three, Chapter Six of Iconology (pp. 151-208); Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats (1928); Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) [R]; Helen Bannerman, The Story of Little Black Sambo (1899)*; Bannerman, The Story of Little Babaji, illus. Fred Marcellino (1996) [R]; Julius Lester, Sam and the Tigers, illus. Jerry Pinkney (1996) [R]; Sendak, "Beatrix Potter / 1" (1966) & "Beatrix Potter / 2" (1965) [both CP2]
Th 25
Classic Picturebooks: Sendak, Krauss, Brown. Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are (1964) and In The Night Kitchen (1970); Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig (1952) [R]; Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, illus. Clement Hurd (1947); William Moebius, "Picturebook Codes"(1986); [CP2]; Nodelman, "Picture Books" (1996) [CP2]; if you haven't had the chance to do so yet, read Bang, Picture This (1991).
Recommended: Winsor McCay, The Best of Little Nemo in Slumberland (1997) [R]; Spiegelman, "Sequences" (1997) [CP2]; Sendak, "Winsor McCay" (1973) [CP2]; Sendak and Spiegelman, "In the Dumps" (1993) [CP2]; Selma G. Lanes, The Art of Maurice Sendak [R]; Susan E. Meyer, A Treasury of the Great Children's Book Illustrators (1983) [R]; Leonard Marcus, Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon (1992).
Presentation: Maurice Sendak or Margaret Wise Brown.
October Th 2
Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), Horton Hatches the Egg (1940), Horton Hears a Who! (1954), The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), Yertle the Turtle (1958), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), The Sneetches (1961), The Lorax (1971), The Butter Battle Book (1984), The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss (1995) [all R]; Philip Nel, "'Said a Bird in the Midst of a Blitz…': How World War II Created Dr. Seuss," Mosaic 34.2 (2001) < backlist/2001/June/nelessay34-2.html> [W].
Recommended: Richard Minear, Dr. Seuss Goes To War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel (1999) [R]. How World War II Created Dr. Seuss: web-based "slide show" (using cartoons from the Dr. Seuss Collection, Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD).
Th 9
"Postmodern" Picturebooks. W.J.T. Mitchell, "Metapictures" from Picture Theory (U Chicago P, 1994), pp. 35-82 [CP2]; Peter Newell, The Hole Book (1908) [R]; Ann Jonas, Round Trip (1983) [R]; Chris Van Allsburg, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984) [R]; Jon Agee, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clouseau (1988) [R]; Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955); David Wiesner, The Three Pigs (2001) [R]; David Macaulay, Black and White (1990) [R].
Recommended: Crockett Johnson, A Picture for Harold's Room (1960) [R]; Art Spiegleman, Open Me...I'm a Dog! (1997); Stephen T. Johnson, As the City Sleeps (2002) [R].
Leading Class Discussion: "Postmodern" Picturebooks.
Th 16
No class. (I'll be on my way to the ASA.) Work on reading for next week.
Th 23
Understanding Comics. Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics (1993); George Herriman, Krazy & Ignatz, 1925-1926: There Is a Heppy Lend -- Fur, Fur Awa-a-ay (2002); Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book (1995).
Recommended: Preface and chapters 2-9 from R[ichard] Taylor, Introduction to Cartooning (1947) [CP2].
Th 30
The Graphic Novel. Will Eisner, A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories (1978); Linda Medley, Castle Waiting: Volume One (2002).
Recommended: Roger Sabin, Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art (1996).
Presentation: A Brief History of the Graphic Novel.
November Th 6
Art Spiegelman. Art Spiegelman, Maus I: My Father Bleeds History (1986) and Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began (1991); Spiegleman, "Looney Tunes, Zionism and the Jewish Question" (1989), "Letter to the New York Times Book Review" (1991), and "Little Orphan Annie's Eyeballs" (1994) [all CP2]; Joe Sacco, "The Underground War in Gaza" (2003) [CP2].
Presentation: Art Spiegleman.
M 10 Prospectus DUE in my office (Denison 208) by 12 noon.
Th 13
Lynda Barry. Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons (2002).
Recommended: Trina Robbins, A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993).
Presentation: Lynda Barry.
Th 20
Moore and Gibbons. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen (1987); Fredric Wertham, excerpt from Seduction of the Innocents (1953); Ron Goulart, "The Wertham Crusade" (1986) [both CP2].
Leading Class Discussion: Watchmen.
Th 27
December Th 4
Chris Ware. Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan, or The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000); Gene Kannenberg Jr., "The Comics of Chris Ware: Text, Image, and Visual Narrative" (2001) [X].
M 8
Paper DUE in my office (Denison 208) by 12 noon.

Recommended Resources

In the Library

  • Secondary Sources (Children's Literature): Susan E. Meyer, A Treasury of the Great Children's Book Illustrators (1983); Perry Nodelman, Words About Pictures (1988); Anita Silvey, Children's Books and Their Creators (1995); Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard (editors), The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (1984); Babara Bader, American Picturebooks from Noah's Ark to the Beast Within (1976); Leonard S. Marcus, Author Talk (2000), and others; the Something About the Author series (1971-); the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vols. 22, 42, 52, 61, 141, 160, 161, 163, and any other of the volumes devoted to Children's Literature (1983-); the Children's Literature Review series (1976-); the Junior Book of Authors series (1934-89); Barbara Rollock (editor), Black Authors and Illustrators of Children's Books: A Biographical Dictionary (1992); Althea K. Helbig and Agnes Regan Perkins, This Land Is Our Land: A Guide to Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults (1994).
  • Secondary Sources (Comics, Comix, Graphic Novels): Coulton Waugh, The Comics (1947, repr. 1991); Stephen Becker, Comic Art in America (1959); Jules Feiffer, The Great Comic Book Heroes (1965, repr. 2003); David Kunzle, History of the Comic Strip, Vol. 1 (1973) and Vol. 2 (1990); Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams (eds.), The Smithsonian Collection of Newspape Comics (1977); Will Eisner, Comics & Sequential Art (1985); Ron Goulart, Great History of Comic Books (1986); Richard Marschall, America’s Great Comic-Strip Artists: From the Yellow Kid to Peanuts (1989); Trina Robbins, A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993); Bill Blackbeard and Dale Crain (eds.), The Comic Strip Century: Celebrating 100 Years of an American Art Form [2 volumes] (1995); Stephen Hess and Sandy Northrop, Drawn and Quartered: The History of American Political Cartoons (1996); Maurice Horn (ed.), 100 Years of American Newspaper Comics: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (1996); Roger Sabin, Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art (1996); Scott McCloud, Reinventing Comics (2000); Pascal Lefevre and Charles Dierick (eds.), Forging a New Medium: The Comic Strip in the Nineteenth Century (1999); Robin Varnum and Christina T. Gibbons (eds.), The Language of Comics: Words and Image (2001).

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Required Texts | Objectives | Grading | Requirements | Bulletin Board | Schedule of Assignments | Recommended Resources

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This page was last updated on Sunday, June 18, 2006.