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EN 135 -- Graphic Novels as Thrillers and Chillers: Home


During our discussions of Maus, Contract With God, and Fun Home, we generated several questions that did not have a clear answer within the text itself. For example:

  • Why did Spiegelman portray the Polish people as Pigs?
  • How is it that Vladek and Anja’s WWII experience was able to affect Artie so acutely?
  • Why do so many of the female characters in Contract With God see themselves as being trapped?
  • Why is there so much sexual frustration/unusual sexual behavior in Contract With God?
  • How is it that memoir makes an argument? In Fun Home? In Maus?

This assignment gives you the opportunity to explore one of these questions (or another) further by researching the contextual aspects of these works.  Context, in this case, means any knowledge gained outside of the source material (hence the need for research).
1. Start with something you found interesting or appealing about one of the texts
we’ve discussed. Or, start with something that is confusing or unresolved for you.
You can use one of the questions listed above, or you can develop one of your own.
2. Turn that observation into a research question.

3. Learn from your research, develop a theory about your question, and turn your research question into a thesis.
4. This paper is NOT intended to be a report on your research. Ultimately, what you are going to turn in is a close reading of some aspect of one of the books we have read in class. The main focus of your paper should be on analyzing the text.  Your research is to help you understand specific aspects of the text. The key to success is linking your research to an analysis of the text you have chosen.

Pro Tips:

Think about what kind of resources could help you answer this question:
Interviews with the author? Criticism of the text? Background on historical events?

See where your research takes you--remember that research comes before the thesis. We research to find out what our argument will be, not to support a supposition we already hold.

The Details:
You will produce a 5 page paper, double-spaced, 12 pt font and with 1 inch margins.

Do not exceed 5 pages.

On either 3/1 or 3/6 we will be having an in-class workshop on source integration, and I will go into more detail about what I’m looking for regarding the structure of your paper. This will also be covered in the rubric.

Annotated Bibliography
You will also produce an annotated bibliography which contains: a 1-3 sentence summary or your argument or research question; the 2-3 sources you intend to use in your paper; and an annotation (in MLA style) indicating what the source is about, and how you intend to use it in your argument. For your research, use the resources listed on the course guide I created:

You should use 2-3 sources for your paper. Your sources do not need to be peer-
reviewed, but they should be scholarly and authoritative. If you are using a source from the internet, it is a good idea to get my approval first.

Due Dates
The annotated bibliography is due on 3/1 via Blackboard.

Your paper is due 3/20 via Blackboard.


Research Help

If you need any help with this assignment, you are welcome to contact me directly:

ext. 2185

You can also stop by the Library Services and Information Desk, and anyone will be happy to help you.