MA Comics Studies


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Degree of Master of Arts



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Comics have never been more important. Our MA degree in Comics Studies will enable you to discover the varied history, culture and industries that have made comics a pre-eminent and vibrant art form.

From award-winning graphic novels to superhero movies competing for the global box office, comics and comics culture are everywhere today.

The MA in Comics Studies will help you discover and critically engage with the varied history, cultures and industries that have made comics a pre-eminent and vibrant art form.

Whether you are a fan of comics and graphic novels, or interested in visual storytelling more generally, then this MA is ideal for you.

You will develop advanced knowledge of comics as an international art form with ties to wider popular and avant-garde cultures, and will learn to critically analyze and evaluate a broad range of comics styles and formats.

Overview

The MA in Comics Studies is the only MA programme of its kind in the world, and whether you are new to the field of comics studies or are developing existing interests, the programme will serve to deepen and broaden your understanding of comics and their associated cultures. As a student on the programme, you will learn about comics from a range of international contexts such as Great Britain, the United States, Europe, Japan and others. You will also learn about the various theoretical approaches to studying comics, including the unique ways comics make meaning from the combination of words and images. World-leading comics scholars will guide you through the complex histories, cultures and politics of the form. In the first year, you will take a year-long, team-taught module focusing on key issues in comics studies, with additional compulsory modules in the theory and practice of comics studies and the long-standing relationship between film and comics. You will also choose from a wide variety of optional modules that touch upon such issues as politics, gender, sexuality and race in both comics and related media. Through these modules, you will develop your ability to undertake advanced independent research projects. In addition, you will deepen your critical and analytical skills, especially in relation to understanding and evaluating visual art and storytelling.

Course Structure

Because comics studies is not limited to a single traditional academic subject, the programme is designed to be richly interdisciplinary, and to take advantage of innovative teaching and research across the Arts and Humanities at the University of East Anglia.

As part of your degree, you will be able to take modules focused on comics and related art forms in a range of disciplines, including literature, history, politics, cultural studies, film and media studies and art history.

A core component of the programme during the first year is a year-long, team-taught module that introduces you to the key issues in comics studies. Here, you will be taught by several of our experts in comics studies, and may also receive input from visiting academic speakers and comics artists. This module covers a wide range of topics and gives you a cutting-edge introduction to the fast-moving worlds of comics and their culture, including aesthetics, histories and industries.

In semester one of the first year, you will also take a compulsory module entitled Comics Studies: Theory and Practice that teaches you about the various theoretical approaches and methodologies concerning the academic study of comics.

In semester two of the first year, you will take the compulsory module Film and Comics, which is an in-depth exploration of the similarities and differences between these two related art forms, including issues of adapting one form to the other.

Finally, in both semesters of your second year, you will select a module from carefully selected options that range across the Arts and Humanities. Although not all of these modules will be specifically or exclusively about comics, all of them will be informed by the kinds of broad questions—such as politics, race, gender, and sexuality—that are applicable to the study of comics.

The combination of compulsory and optional modules ensures that you will gain specialist knowledge about comics as a unique art form while also allowing you to follow your own academic interests in a number of different directions.

During the second year, you will also write your dissertation, which is an independent research project that will enable you to draw upon everything you have learned over the course of the year.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is taught by a range of teachers from across the university, all of whom are world-leading experts in their fields. In addition, you will also hear from visiting speakers such as artists and industry insiders, and might also participate in field trips and internships. Teaching on the programme is interdisciplinary and benefits from a variety of approaches to teaching and learning. Assessments consist of a mix of essays and more innovative assignment formats that are designed to help you think more deeply about the particularities of comics compared to other literary or visual art forms.

In the first year, you will take two modules per semester, which will be taught by a mixture of lectures, seminars and workshops. Seminars are usually two hours per week, and lectures are usually an hour in length. In total, this means that you can expect around four hours of contact time with your teachers per week during the first year. In the second year, you will take one module per semester and also write your dissertation. Your teachers will also hold regular office hours, giving you the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues related to your learning. In addition, you will be expected to do primary and secondary reading that includes both comics and academic scholarship.

For your dissertation, you will conduct independent research and work closely with an advisor to develop your ideas throughout the process.

Assessment

The MA in Comics Studies is assessed through a mixture of different kinds of projects and coursework, including essays, portfolio assignments and an independent research project culminating in a dissertation.

After the course

Your degree will open up the many different worlds associated with comics and their various international cultures, and will give you valuable knowledge that will enable you to work in comics-related fields such as publishing, media industries, and event organisation. Finally, you will also be well-equipped to undertake a PhD in any area of comics studies.

Career destinations

  • Publishing
  • Event Organising
  • Media production
  • Editing
  • PR and Marketing
  • Further postgraduate studies

Course related costs

Students are strongly encouraged to purchase recommended texts for the actuarial modules as well as a copy of the Formulae and Tables for Examinations of the Faculty of Actuaries and the Institute of Actuaries. These can be purchased via the School at a discounted price at the start of each academic year.

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of other course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 80 credits:

Name Code Credits

COMICS STUDIES: THEORY AND PRACTICE

This module introduces students to the various theoretical approaches and methodologies concerning the academic study of comics. In addition, the module provides students with an opportunity to learn about the comics form through creative practice, which will be integrated into the module's design and learning objectives at every stage. Overall, students will learn how to read, analyse, and write academically about comics through a mix of theoretical and creative approaches. No prior drawing or comics-making experience will be required.

AMAM7024A

20

FILM AND COMICS

Comic books have a long association with the world's film and television industries. Comics have long provided the origin sources for film and television adaptations, from the early animation and live action television to today's blockbuster films. Moreover, comics from around the world, from Marvel and DC Comics in the USA to European bande desinee to Japanese manga, have become the origin points for vast multimedia franchises. This module seeks to understand the relationships between comics and their media adaptations. To do so, you will take a global view of the comics in film and television, considering examples from Hollywood to Asia. In doing so we will consider the range of genres and topics that comics have influenced within film and television cultures including: issues of ideology and gender, issues of adaptation, franchising and transmedia production.

AMAM7017B

20

KEY ISSUES IN COMICS STUDIES

AMAM7024Y

40

Students must study the following modules for 60 credits:

Name Code Credits

Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

In Semester 1:

Name Code Credits

ART, IDENTITY AND THE BODY

The human body and its changing actions and reactions offer art historians a gateway into understanding the cultures of the modern world. You will address changing representation of the body in a wide range of artistic moments and media: painting, sculpture, prints, photography, and performance art. You will also consider the process of making and experiencing art as forms of embodied experience, and the human body itself as a site for artistic intervention. Engaging with a wide range of interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches, you will explore the complex and knotty connections between bodies and the identities - gender, race, class, sexual orientation - that have shaped narratives of modernity.

AMAA7030A

20

AMERICAN WORD AND IMAGE, POST-1945

American culture is powerfully visual. From the 'eyes of the world' judging Winthrop's City upon a Hill and Emerson's 'transparent eyeball' to advertising, art, TV and movies America is a culture of the image. But how do we read such a culture? This team-taught module examines the fecund intersection of word and image in post-war American literary texts, visual art, and popular culture in order to explore ways of reading postmodern America. You will cover key phases, figures and texts of late twentieth-century American writing (poetry, comics, autobiography) in conjunction with contemporaneous art practices (Abstract Expressionism, Performance Art, Conceptualism, and Pop art). You will examine works that challenge the historic separation of visual and verbal, instead reading poetry, illustrated texts, artists' books, philosophy, conceptual art, painting, comic books, photography, digital media, installations and exhibitions as places where images and texts meet and are mutually enhanced. You will learn about, and critically negotiate, key philosophical, literary, art historical, and art critical debates concerning post-modernity and post-war visual art in order to assess the powerful sway of word and image on America's imagining of itself in the late Twentieth Century. The overall aim is to investigate how correspondences between verbal and visual disciplines and practices affect both constructions of and reflections on modern American experience. This is taught in a number of two-week-long units with regular round-up sessions for the teaching team and you to consolidate and develop overarching themes and issues.

AMAS7015A

20

CASE STUDIES

For this module you'll look at ways in which specific authors/works/genres pass into other cultures through translation. We will look at several genres and for each one, we will analyse the type, identify challenges in translating it, discuss strategies, and examine examples of works in that style, using close textual analysis to see how translators can tackle problems of linguistic, stylistic, and cultural difference. We will then practise translating texts from that genre. The course is both critical and creative. Genres may include comics, children's literature, drama, humour or crime, among others.

LDCE7020A

20

POLITICS, COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

This module looks at the articulation of comic books to the sphere of "politics" broadly construed across a range of different case studies. In doing so it has a dual purpose. On the one hand it attempts to say something distinct about the medium of comics and its history. On the other hand, it uses comics to explore the shifting relationship between politics and popular culture and the different discourses, academic and popular, that have been used to understand those links.

PPLM7019A

20

Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

In Semester 2:

Name Code Credits

ANALYSING HOLLYWOOD CINEMA

'Hollywood' as an industry, cultural institution and maker of films has dominated the global cinematic imagination for decades. On this module, we investigate the history, production cultures and texts made by the US film industry from its classic period to contemporary filmmaking. This will include analysing Hollywood from a range of perspectives, which may include things like studio filmmaking, independent filmmaking, genre filmmaking and the blockbuster. In doing so we will discover the multiplicity of cinemas at work within the concept of Hollywood.

AMAM7011B

20

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

Various attempts at (sub-)categorising contemporary fiction interpret it as a departure from previous aesthetics or a response to political or historical events or movements: post-modern; post-colonial; post-feminist; post-communist; post-9/11; post-millennial; post-national; even post-post-modern etc. As a prefix, "post-" suggests supersedence rather than novelty; at worst it is merely an aspirational syllable. Its proliferation co-exists with more conventional attempts at temporal taxonomy such as monographs and student guides dedicated to specific decades. One way of reading "post"-something-or-other is to think of it as an engagement with, and critical reassessment of, the past it so assiduously hyphenates: its literary conventions, cultural heritage, philosophical traditions, political ideologies, and - paradoxically - its long shadows way beyond the present moment. The manifestations of these engagements and reassessments can be rather contradictory. The memory boom of the 1990s put paid to claims about "the end of history" or scepticism over Grand Narratives. The renewed popularity of the (neo)historical novel and period drama also chafes against the recent turn towards trauma studies. The effects of new market forces, media and digital technology on the form of writing and the construction of the "author" could also be seen as one of the legacies of modernism. A focus on mindfulness, ethics and affect sits uneasily alongside the necessity for art to provoke and push boundaries. Expressions of the regional contend with an increasing awareness of transnational subjects, diasporic identities and global issues, and some of the most interesting writing today comes from 'the East' or writers with hybrid origins and hyphenated identities. Can fiction still be formally inventive and how might it enter into dialogue with other art forms (photography, sculpture, painting, cinema)? In the light of the critical and commercial success of 'creative non-fiction' we might also want to ask precisely how narrative can perforate disciplinary and generic categories. On this module we will attempt to construct a (naturally provisional, selective and incomplete) genealogy of the contemporary by examining some of the discernible trends and tensions of relatively recent writing. Much of this writing will be Anglophone but you should be prepared for adventures in reading translations. We will also have to opportunity do some work in UEA's Archive of Contemporary Literature: what and who is being archived according to which criteria, and what do archivists, academics and critics consider archival about the contemporary?

LDCC7020B

20

CRITICALLY QUEER: SEX, GENDER AND SEXUALITY

How are sex, gender and sexuality brought together to ensure the normative privileging of heterosexuality and the sex/gender binary? What possibilities are there for resistance to these norms? How does such resistance situate us socially, culturally, and politically? With queer theory as its focus and drawing on case studies from different fields - literature, film, drama and performance, politics, history, among others - in this interdisciplinary module, you'll examine sex, gender, and sexuality as effects of historically specific socio-cultural and geo-political power relations. Rather than approaching queer studies as a singular or coherent school of thought, you'll be encouraged to continuously problematize queer studies as a field and a mode of analysis, asking: What does it mean for theory, in particular, to be queer? What is involved in queering theory and being critically queer? What kinds of bodies or desires does queer describe? What are the promises of queer theory, and what are its perils? What is the future of queer? While doing so, you'll explore a variety of topics, such as politics of difference, representation and cultural production, performance and performativity, temporality and spatiality, subjectivity and embodiment. Overall, in this module, you'll problematise and challenge normalisations, hierarchies and relations of domination and explore the powerful processes and languages that attempt to fix sex, gender and sexuality as unchanging and universal.

HUM-7009B

20

FANTASY GENRES

This module will develop your engagement with genre studies through the analysis of a range of fantasy genres, focusing particularly on science fiction film and television, and its overlaps with horror, epic fantasy and blockbuster Hollywood franchises. In the process, you'll be required to think about how these genres work in terms of their textual codes and conventions, their historical contexts of production and consumption, and to analyse a range of texts in relation to a variety of social/cultural and political issues. You'll engage with a range of theories and methods, which will also be grounded through the examination of specific texts and historical case studies.

AMAM7001B

20

FEMINISMS AND TELEVISION FROM WONDER WOMAN TO HANNAH HORVATH

You will learn about the relationship between feminisms and the cultural history of (primarily) US and UK television from second wave feminism to the present. Your module charts the dialogue between feminism and television in Anglophone contexts from the 1970s through to the 2010s, focussing on flashpoint moments for feminism (e.g. the women's liberation movement; millennial postfeminism; the global financial crisis) and touchstone texts (e.g. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Prime Suspect, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sex and the City, Girls, Scandal) that have resonated particularly strongly with female audiences (e.g. soap operas; lifestyle TV; women centred dramas), struck a chord with feminist concerns (e.g. work/life balance, sexual freedoms, empowerment, the politics of relationships/singlehood/friendship), and generated foundational criticism by feminist television scholars. It will be structured chronologically, and topics may include feminism and female audiences; action heroines on television; the figure of the female detective; women's work; intersectional identities (queerness, post-racial discourse, masculinities) and recessionary culture.

AMAM7009B

20

GOOD GOOD GIRLS AND GOOD BAD BOYS? AMERICAN FICTIONS OF INNOCENCE

Oscar Wilde wrote that 'The youth of America is their oldest tradition; it has been going on now for three hundred years'. Is this true? If so, why? This module aims to account for the preoccupation with youth in America, focusing particularly on the concept of 'innocence'. Drawing on a wide array of fictional and theoretical works, you'll consider the following questions: What is at stake in America's investment in innocence? What power interests and ideologies are maintained by repeatedly describing America as 'innocent'? How is this investment in innocence revised in different historical moments? How is it challenged? How is innocence (and loss of innocence) depicted differently for female, male, white and non-white protagonists? At the end of this module, you'll have had the opportunity to reflect on these questions in seminars, and pursued your own interests in assessed work (presentation and essay). You will also have developed your communication, writing and research skills.

AMAL7000B

20

IMAGINING WORLDS

The 2009 Venice Biennale of contemporary art was entitled 'Making Worlds'. You will, however, explore longer histories of the relationship between art and world-making. How have artworks and other cultural artefacts like maps and diagrams been used to visualize real, historical and imaginary worlds? How might we conceive of artworks themselves as kinds of worlds, with their own resources and conventions? How have more recent artists intervened directly into the landscape to figure pressing concerns regarding environmental change and possible futures? Drawing from a variety of temporal and geographical moments, you'll explore both capacities specific to art and its relationship to the changing world in which we live.

AMAA7031B

20

RACE AND RESISTANCE

"Where there is power, there is resistance" (Foucault). What forms resistance to oppression might have taken however, and indeed, what counts as resistance, are at the heart of this module. Your module is about theories of race and strategies of resistance within the Americas. Interdisciplinary and team-taught, it begins with the premise that the ideology of white racial dominance continues to subordinate American peoples of colour. You will then examine a range of forms and strategies of resistance, from covert and overt forms under the slave system, to the response of indigenous peoples to the overt power of the State, to the struggle for civil rights during the 20th century. You will consider particular case studies each week drawn from the teaching team's research areas. You will develop a deeper critical understanding of conceptual terms associated with race and resistance. You will be asked to think comparatively, reflecting on different forms of resistance and the differing methodologies used to analyse it. The interdisciplinary nature of your module means you will benefit from a range of expertise and disciplines (intellectually and methodologically). Your module will enable you to understand how history, literature and studies can be put in dialogue with each other around the same overarching theme. You will learn through seminars, tutorials, and self-directed study. The focus of the week's discussion will center around questions you've developed from the set-reading and your own additional resources if applicable. You'll be assessed through coursework with various workshops and tutorials to guide you in developing this. You will develop knowledge and skills to enable you to take forward either to further study or in your chosen career. Aside from honing your research, writing, and presentation skills, you'll also develop your communication and leadership skills. Growing intellectually through the weekly small-group discussions, you'll also meet each other outside of the context of the seminar for further discussions around a set task.

AMAS7019B

20

Disclaimer

Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Humanities or Social Sciences
  • Degree Classification UK BA (Hons) 2:1 or equivalent

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in all components)
PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 42 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact intopre-sessional@uea.ac.uk

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

UK/EU Students: £7,850 (full time)
International Students: £16,400 (full time)

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for Home/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships

For details of all of the scholarships available to postgraduate Art, Media and American Studies applicants, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
Email: admissions@uea.ac.uk

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries:
    admissions@uea.ac.uk or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515