The essay

Two new downloads: a sample essay and the essay topics. I’ve pasted the topics in the post below. Make sure you read the instructions for this assignment on the first page of the essay topics pdf.


1. Explore Eisner’s depiction of human bodies in either Chapter 2 (“Escapee”) or Chapter 5 (“The Black Hand”) of A Life Force. Some questions you might want to consider: how are bodies manipulated across the comics page? When does body language escape the law of the word? What roles do caricature and the grotesque play?

2. Discuss the importance of third parties in Maus by focusing on commercial dealings or mediated transactions. Choose a sequence of four to six pages. How is the social world being represented? Think about the shared architecture of a page and Spiegelman’s reliance on metaphor. Some suggested venues: Vladek’s “secret business” (pages 77-80) or the empty ghetto/bank sequence (pages 123-127).

3. Choose a sequence of four to six pages from the latter half of Jimmy Corrigan. What is Ware telling us about sensory perception and external reality? What is the relationship in your sequence between iconic shorthand and verisimilitude? It might be useful to think about Groensteen’s theory of “the page (or the double page)” as a starting point (Groensteen 130).

4. Write about the visual representation of trauma or pain in one chapter from One Hundred Demons (“Resilience” is the standout here). Some questions you might want to consider: does Barry’s strict structure limit what she can depict? How does Barry exploit gutters, closure, and subtraction? What does color add to Barry’s typically black and white work?

Or mix and match: for instance, discuss bodies in Ware or sensory perception in Barry.


5 thoughts on “The essay

    • That’s right: no title page. The sample essay shows you how a paper in MLA should look. The works cited page typically begins on a separate sheet, but I am okay with you fitting it onto the bottom of your final page (if you can). The good thing about MLA is that you don’t really need to learn MLA; you just copy how it looks.


  1. Do we have any sort of rough guideline for word count? Not that it is a huge factor, but to know how concise or elaborate we can be is always helpful. Thanks in advance.

    • 750-900 words, David. Economy is key. Be as clear and as precise as possible about what you want to argue for. Think about what is absolutely necessary and what is redundant. Pare down, be selective. Find those sensitive spots in the comic where ambiguity and complexity can flourish.

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