Even Calvin & Hobbes dabble in rhetorical criticism of their favorite comic books, but your final paper is going to kick it up a notch by integrating concepts, readings, and analytic schema we’ve been surveying in this course. As mentioned in class, your first step is to select a graphic novel collecting a series or storyline and research some of the author’s motives, the text’s core themes, and some of the best critical commentary already out there. The next step is to formulate a few key ideas or themes that you want to explore in your paper, the guidelines for which are included in the course syllabus (and this paper shouldn’t be too terribly different in organization than your second paper on animated superheroes). But keep in mind, the point of the exercise is to synthesize readings and concepts from the semester in your analysis. Here is a quick review with some helpful tips for turning your own critical insights on a graphic novel into a critical rhetorical analysis using the D.I.E.T. formula.
First, DESCRIBE your graphic novel, its context, basic plotline, and perhaps use interviews or commentaries of creators or critics to establish the significance of its major themes and tropes. This introduction needs to be concise, just a page or two, since you don’t want to burn too much space on description and skimp on analysis. The point is to offer a concise punchy justification for the importance or significance of your chosen text/character for analysis.
Next, INTERPRET your text using theories and concepts from the course. A good idea would be to use the key elements of Reynolds, Coogan, and Lawrence & Jewett to descriptively explore your story’s characters, setting, and action plotline. Since you can’t talk about everything, focus on what you find to be a few key concepts or themes that are central to understanding the rhetoric operating within your text, and use our superscholar trinity to do it. Pay particular attention to those mythic themes that are being uniquely re-worked in your specific superhero fantasy.