In the spring semester of 2014, Professor Susan Squier taught a graduate English course on Graphic Medicine at Penn State University. Her students both read, reviewed, critiqued, and created comics on medical themes. From the course syllabus:
Whether your focus as a scholar is literature, rhetoric, cultural studies, or science studies, and whether you plan to write about comics in your dissertation or are merely curious about the medium, this seminar will introduce you to graphic medicine: comics that address issues of illness, disability, and medicine from the perspectives of patients, health care workers, caregivers and/or family members. Because there is growing interest in graphic medicine in the medical humanities and the health humanities, this course also will introduce some of the foundational works in those fields, areas of study that also have their own journals (among them Literature and Medicine and Journal of the Medical Humanities), their own conferences (American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and the International Health Humanities Conference), and substantial representation at the MLA as well.
During the semester, we will read some of the best works in graphic medicine, as well as several studies that present synoptic theories about the medium of comics in general and about graphic medicine in particular. And, because in my view the way to write about comics with authority is to have an appreciation of what it takes to create them, we’ll devote part of each class to studio time in which we will learn about the construction of comics, on a practical and pedagogical level. While most of you are talented writers, I do not assume that you think of yourselves as artists. That is NOT a problem. Knowledge of the nuts and bolts of comics creation will make you a better comics critic or theorist.
What follows are the comics created by Susan’s students during this course.
Student: Greg Coles. Greg is a graduate student studying English at rhetoric. He teaches first-year composition. He loves writing, music, baking, and occasionally hanging out doors of moving vehicles in other countries.