Women's Studies

Drawing Women’s Lives: The Graphic Memoir

Casey O'Brien Gerhart

Course: WMNS 192 SEM 002
Class Number: 43936
Credits: 3 HU
Time: TR 12:30 - 1:45pm
Place: TBA

Course Description:

What does it mean to narrate a life by both writing and drawing it? What does the visual—and specifically the handwritten visual—add to women’s autobiography? The twenty-first century has seen an outpouring of comic texts with women’s lives as the subject. With its complex, nonlinear mining and assemblage of memory, the graphic memoir is well suited to explore concepts of remembering and knowing. Examining recently published graphic memoirs by women, as well as recent feminist critical work on the graphic novel as archive, this course will examine how women remember, (re)create, draw, and narrate their lives. The memoirs selected for this women’s studies course creatively and critically explore territories of gender, identity, sexuality, race, culture, and knowledge. Through the process of examining the genre of the graphic memoir and the multiple questions—and complications—that arise when narrating women’s lives in written and drawn form, students will learn to read and construct knowledge in new ways.

Work Involved:

This seminar seeks to introduce students to the concepts, terminology, and analytical practices that will be useful in their examination graphic memoirs that draw and tell women’s lives. Along with the memoirs themselves, we will examine scholarly essays published on the topic. Additionally, students will write/draw a mini memoir that asks them to examine an event in their own lives.

Grading Rubric

  • Participation & Attendance (25%)
  • Reading Analyses (25%)
  • Class Assignments (25%)
  • Mini Memoir Final Project (25%)

Sample Reading:

  • Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2007)
  • Bell, Gabrielle. The Voyeurs (2012)
  • Daly, Lynda. One Hundred Demons (2005)
  • Forney, Ellen. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me (2012)
  • Katin, Miriam. We are On Our Own (2006)
  • Sandall, Laurie. The Impostor’s Daughter (2010)
  • Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis (2004)
  • Tyler, C. You’ll Never Know: Book One (2009)

About the Instructor:

Casey O’Brien Gerhart is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and a lecturer for Women’s Studies. She has been teaching at UWM since 2003, offering courses on Autobiography & Memoir; American Fiction; Rhetoric, Writing & Culture; College Composition; Feminist Research Writing Methods; Multicultural America; American Consumer Culture; and Introduction to Women’s Studies. With an undergraduate degree in literature and Russian, Casey received her M.A. at UWM in English (Modern Studies) in 2004.