Fall 2020 - GSWS 321 D100

Special Topics in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (4)

Comics/Graphic Sex

Class Number: 7524

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    15 units.



A specific theme within the field of gender, sexuality, and women's studies, not otherwise covered in depth in regularly scheduled courses, will be dealt with as occasion and demand warrant.


From the newspaper funny pages to the graphic novel Fun Home, comics are a pervasive and popular art form read by audiences of all ages. The unique combination of text and image in comics provides a rich visual language for exploring the lived complexities of embodied experience and the larger social and political contexts that shape our identities. What might we learn about how social norms are produced and transformed through the stories portrayed in Marvel superhero comics, from the disability politics of the Hawkeye to the gender politics of Miss Marvel? How do the stark lines and sharp visual contrasts in Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis add another dimension to her story about gender and religion in the context of the Iranian Revolution? And how might putting our own experiences into graphic form help us to think in more nuanced and unexpected ways about how formations of gender and sexuality are at play in our own lives? This course is designed to teach students how to read and interpret comics, how to analyze and theorize the play of gender and sexuality in graphic narratives – from superhero comics and manga to underground comix and graphic memoirs – and how to visually think, theorize, and communicate by creating our own drawings.

*Please be advised: While this course requires you to draw A LOT, it requires – and even encourages! – absolutely no prior artistic training, skill, or experience. The premise of the course is everyone can draw and there is no such thing as a bad drawing. Cartoonist Lynda Barry reminds us: judging our drawings gets in the way of seeing the original, unexpected, and exciting ideas that are really there. So, let’s start drawing and see what shows up!


For more detailed information please see the GSWS website: http://www.sfu.ca/gsws/undergraduate/courses/Educational_Goals.html


  • Weekly low-stakes drawing exercises (6 points each x 9) 54%
  • Drawing Assignment #1 (Comic Strip) 10%
  • Drawing Assignment #2 (2-Page Graphic Story) 16%
  • Drawing Assignment #3 (4-page Zine, Graphic Narrative, or Comic) 20%



  • Lecture materials will be recorded and available on canvas.
  • Weekly lecture, discussion, and drawing activities will take place online and will include asynchronous and synchronous components. Attendance at synchronous online components (via BB Collaborate and/or Zoom) on Tuesdays from 14:00-16:00 is encouraged, but not required. Recordings of these sessions will be made available on canvas.




Required Supplies:

  • Composition Notebook (wide-rule, standard size, non-recycled paper)
  • Papermate Flair Pens (black, medium point)
  • Colored markers or crayons
  • Index Cards (4”x 6” index cards, blank on one side)
  • Blank Printer Paper (8.5” x 11”)

*If you are unable to access or afford drawing supplies, please contact the professor. I do not want cost of supplies to inhibit any student’s ability to take the course.


  • Sherine Hamdy and Coleman Nye, Lissa: A Story of Friendship, Medical Promise, and Revolution (2017, University of Toronto Press), e-book $15.96 at University of Toronto Press website
  • Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do (2017, Abrams), e-book $19 at Indigo
  • Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, et al. This Place: 150 Years Retold (2019, Portage and Main), e-book $23 at Indigo
  • All other readings and course materials will be made available on canvas

*I encourage you to purchase e-books from sellers that aren’t Amazon. If you want a paperback, Pulp Fiction Books is a great local bookstore that will order anything Amazon has at a comparable price and offers free shipping. They are also doing free delivery in Vancouver.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).