January 17, 2013

To his friend...


53 comments:

  1. I had to read it for History during my undergrad as an example of contemporary media artistically reflecting the society mentality of the time. Does that mean I went to a bad school as well?

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    1. Depends on the degree you studied for, if it was in computer science or astrophysics, then probably.

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    2. Why? Science undergrads have some liberal arts requirements as well.

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  2. Have to disagree with the "It's true" tag here--plenty of respected universities have courses that teach Watchmen either in literature, cultural studies, and history.

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    1. Exactly. My sister put Watchmen, Persepolis, and a couple of other graphic novels on the syllabi for her English courses at a pretty damned good private university. If you study medieval literature in any depth, you most certainly study the illuminations, marginalia, etc. of certain manuscripts. It's weird to see an actual comics fan with the "pictures = trivial" attitude; that's usually for the detractors. Unless he gets mad at anything more challenging that big guns and titties.

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    2. IAWTP. “It’s true” is a bit harsh here.

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  3. It is so very sad that after all the examples of great literature that universities teach classes based on comic books. Sign of the times.

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    1. It's even sadder that you don't believe comics books as a medium are capable of producing great literature.

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    2. Comics are NOT literature. Having written words doesn't make them literature. Flyers aren't literature either, although they may content words. Comics fall under a different narrative form.

      Comics are a completely different medium, probably far from being the best for an English class. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE comics, but I don't delude myself with its reach and relevance. A comic can't replace a book the same way a book can't replace a comic. Also applies to comics and paintings, btw.

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    3. Yeah, there's no way that a comic book, like Maus, could ever have any sort of reach or relevance. Comics are for kids, and will never be able to be anything else.

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    4. Brad the Dad1/17/2013 4:23 PM

      @Anonymous 12:52--I agree that comics is its own medium, which is why I dislike the term graphic novel so much. However, I think comics are as valid a form of expression as any form of narrative art be it novel, film or play. After all, people once made this same argument re: poetry and prose--the novel was considered vulgar entertainment really until the mid nineteenth century. (Maybe that was your point, it was kind of hard to tell)
      @Anonymous 10:39--If you think so little of comics, why are you reading this blog?

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    5. Arguing about whether comics are literature is like the (equally pointless) argument about whether video games are art.

      In both cases, the answer is simple. In a broad sense, of course comics are 'literature', since they're a means of written self-expression. But only a small number of comics deserve to be classed as capital-L Literature. Watchmen, arguably, is one of those.

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    6. @Brad the Dad,

      Anon 10:39 here. I assume you meant to address your last sentence to Anon 10.28.

      @Anon 12.52,

      Sadder and sadder.

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    7. Not another anonymous.1/18/2013 9:22 AM

      @Brad the Dad
      And I dislike the term "comics" because it implies "comedy", which, often, people take to mean childish or, at least, not serious. But I agree. Comics do deserve to be appreciated too. They may be different than novels but many comic book writers would be pretty insulted if you told them their work didn't deserve recognition...

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    8. Brad the Dad1/18/2013 10:05 AM

      Anon 10:39. Well, you are right. Sorry. I actually liked your comment quite a bit.

      Anonymous 5:37. I agree 100%. However, have you been a bookstore lately? Only a tiny fraction of novels published in a given year, hell a given week, also deserve the term literature.

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    9. Brad the Dad1/18/2013 10:06 AM

      No, I haven't been a bookstore either. I meant, have you been TO a bookstore.

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    10. @Not Another Anonymous -

      By that logic, the word "novel" implies being new, which is an odd name for a form that's around three hundred years old at this point (and is, really, rather old-fashioned).

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    11. This is the dullest conversation in the world. Next we'll be talking about whether or not genre fiction is a valid form of expression.

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  4. My university teaches courses on Batman, vampires, and the Lord of the Rings. It's a pretty good school as far as a lot of other things go (and I know the LoTR course focuses on history, the vampires course on Germanic lore (although I'm pretty sure they watch Buffy and read Anne Rice) and the Batman course on...the media) but ever since I learned this I sort of stopped being able to take it as seriously, especially since I sort of feel like those sorts of courses are just laziness and easy credits.

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  5. What's sad is that people spend a fortune going to college, take utterly worthless courses like this, and then bitch about not being able to find a job once they graduate. Is it any surprise that you're still living with your parents at age 25?

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    1. Hell, at this point you can take nothing but legitimate courses at college and still be unemployed and living at home.

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    2. Only if you have no self respect. I graduated with a useless film degree, but I still took a non-related low paying social services job and moved out within 8 or 9 months time.

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    3. What's infuriating is they can rack up tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer backed student loans to play the day away in useless classes like this expecting to get a high paying job at the end of it, and then blame "the 1%" when that doesn't work out for them.

      And for all that there are still other idiots out there who take their whiny complaints seriously.

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    4. Part of it is because of the college racket - for instance, there is no real good reason why earning a degree in the humanities or liberal arts should cost several tens of thousands of dollars.

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    5. Actually there is a very good reason why worthless degrees cost so much: because people are willing to pay it.

      When fools finally stop paying princely sums for worthless degrees the price of those worthless degrees will drop.

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    6. Not another anonymous.1/18/2013 9:29 AM

      "Don't study what you care about (useless degree or not) until someone decides to eventually make it cheaper for you."

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    7. Also see: "Don't study what you care about (useless degree or not) until the market deems it to be of value."

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    8. Literature/writing/media/culture course aren't totally worthless; they've just got a low immediate employment rate. But the people who do study those courses and do well - and are talented and work hard enough - can do very well, generally in the self employed sphere, and plenty more can can get good solid jobs. The problem is that more people do the courses than is justified, from a purely `employability' standpoint, for a similar reason to why so many people who cant sing or dance very well still try out for Idol etc

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    9. I forgot college was meant to be nothing more than a trade school! I better flush my Bachelors in History down the toilet.

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    10. If you can't get a job in office with an English degree, you might be an idiot.

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  6. I teach "Watchmen" to High School Juniors and Seniors.

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  7. "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho"

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  8. Maybe they use this as a textbook?
    http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470396857.html

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  9. Wow, there's a whole lot of stupid in the comments today, isn't there?

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  10. You can take any work of any medium and use it to teach something. It's a English class after all, not a literature class. You don't even have to say books and comics are equal or both literature to the same degree, it all depends what critiera you are using and what purpose you are using them for. I've read books that have less to give than some of the comic's I've read and vice versa. It all depends what you want them for, as many have mentioned above.

    Maybe this class in specific was teaching different ways of portraying rape attempts in stories? It might even have been used as a bad example of it.

    Or it was simply used to highlight the difference between the mediums. There are lots of possibilities.

    Btw, those trash talking these sort of classes, have you taken them or read enough about them to know if they're all nonsense?

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    1. Diana Schutz, Editor-in-Chief at Dark Horse and personal editor to Frank Miller, teaches a class at Portland Community College, in comics history and criticism. Everyone I know who has taken the class said she is a hard taskmaster and they were amazed at how much they learned. They also said that it was evident that a lot of people took the class expecting it to be an easy "A". Most of those people dropped out almost right away when they saw it was too much work. The people who took the class because they were genuinely interested in the medium, even those who fancied themselves "comic afficianados", were surprised about how much they did NOT know about comics! A stimulating learning environment can't be an entire waste of time, I don't think, especially when it teaches about a medium that touches so many facets of our society, and can be about ANY subject, political, historical or otherwise. Maus and Last Day in Vietnam are good examples.

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    2. > Portland Community College

      You're kind of proving today's comic's point there.

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    3. You ever been to a community college? They're really not like the sitcom, and you can actually get some amazing teachers there who can and will give you a better education than some professors at big name colleges. "Credentialed" does not always equate to "superior."

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    4. I don't know about community colleges in general; I'm sure some are a lot better than others. But I've taken classes at PCC, and today's comic very much applies.

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  11. ^First off, unless you've taken the specific class in question at PCC, you can't judge it fairly (if you took many classes or simply heard a lot of critique from other students and can make a statement about the school, I take it back). Average school can have top notch classes. And even if both the class and PCC are actually bad, doesn't mean there can't be a class at another school that includes comics which is a good class.

    But I can be wrong; perhaps only bad school have comics in class(maybe even because the "good" school are afraid to use comics to not be taken seriously), which I guess could be saying something about the medium itself. I sincerly doubt the guy in the OVC comic did his research about that though and has a well educated opinion of it.

    /Same anon as "Anonymous1/17/2013 7:03 PM"

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    1. PCC's college motto is: "At least it's not Job Corps".

      There are three types of student at PCC:
      1) The ones who have learned the hard way that not paying attention in High School wasn't a wise career choice and are now desperate to salvage whatever academics they can.
      2) The ones who are academically tracked, but choose to get certain core requirements less relevant to their major out of the way at a reduced price (such as engineers taking rhetoric over the summer just to get it out of the way).
      3) The ones interested in taking a particular class solely for personal edification, fully realizing it will have little benefit for their academic track or future employability. These students are generally older and already well employed.

      Guess which sort of student (and what sort of class) Schutz teaches.

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  12. Argh, that last comment was for "Anonymous1/17/2013 11:48 PM"

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  13. I agree with the person in today's comic, mainly because i don't think much of WATCHMEN.

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  14. Not another anonymous.1/18/2013 9:59 AM

    Yeah, I guess the "it's true" can be taken one of two ways: Teaching about comics is bad (I disagree), or teaching about Watchmen is bad (arguable at least).

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  15. While attending UCF in Orlando, I took "transfer credit" class at Valencia Community College known as "Humanities of The Star Wars Trilogy". I figured there HAD to be more to it that watching three movies. It was a bait & switch for several people in the class who expected it to be a cake walk.

    It was a full-on Humanities course, involving reading and/or comparison & contrast essay assignments involving "The Odyssey", "Siddhartha" and Joseph Campbell's "The Power Of Myth". I found it rather interesting.

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    1. I remember going over Joseph Campbell in a high school course on archetypes and Arthurian legend. The teacher kept telling us he was going to show us a long boring lecture video the day before vacation. He started the VHS... and suddenly we saw two knights skipping along clopping together coconuts. Best.. English class.. EVER. Though we did eventually watch the lecture after break, a surprise showing of Monty Python was a treat. And I had actually never seen it before.

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  16. I want to say college English professor I had said she almost did Watchmen for a class. I know she said she thought of doing Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. She just wasn't able to wrangle the book store into ordering them in time.

    Compared to some other books that are studied in college, Watchmen makes them look like The DaVinci code. Hell, I'm sure come shitty colleges taught that. I know I had to read Michael Crichton's Timeline for another class.

    Geez, I had to read A Separate Peace in high school. I think maybe a Rob Liefeld book is better than that dreck.

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  17. Reading some of the ridiculous and uninformed ideas about higher education in this thread and things are making sense.

    There seems to be a sense that a work of literature contains some intrinsic value and that if students read "Ulysses" or "Don Quixote" in a lit class, that they will automatically gain more than if they read "Watchmen." Here's the thing--it doesn't matter what is read unless the student is studying a specific strand of literature. Obviously, someone specializing in renaissance lit would gain nothing from reading Watchmen. But in more general literature courses, the idea is for students to interact with, analyze, and engage critically with texts. This can be done with a cereal box, The Watchmen, or Ulysses. So, unless you're a Joyce scholar, a course on Batman can be an excellent course if Batman is treated as a lens into our culture and society, and the comics and bat-iconography are examined at a close, textual level. If that's the case, then the learning outcomes of the Batman course will be the same as any other lit course--students will engage with and analyze texts, write thoughtful argumentative papers about the texts, examine how a text reflects the culture from which it was produced, etc... etc... I'm not advocating all university's start teaching nothing but comics, but why not embrace some of the 20th century's most popular texts as another way to explore our culture?

    Afterall, two of Ulysses most famous scenes involve a man taking his morning dump, then wanking on the beach, and Don Quixote is loaded with slapstick and bodily function jokes--farts, and puke and the like. Don't get me wrong--they're two of my favorite novels, but are they really that superior to Watchmen?

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    1. Of course they are.

      Old is better. And more collegey. QED.

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  18. I had a course at BOSTON COLLEGE where Watchmen was part of the course, taught by THE HEAD OF THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT, so HATERS GONNA HATE.

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  19. Finding this at the bottom of the "it's true" tag was like getting a bucket of cold piss in the face.

    /butthurt

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