COOL CLASSES: “Reading Comics and Religion”

COOL CLASSES: “Reading Comics and Religion”

Class name: “Reading Comics and Religion”

Taught by: Professor of Religion Kenneth Koltun-Fromm


Here’s what Koltun-Fromm had to say about his class:

The class explores how representations of religion arise in comics and graphic novels. Reading comics is a visual practice, but it is also a study in religious expression, creative imagination, and critical interpretation. We want to engage the multi-textured layers of religious traditions through a reading of comics, and so integrate comics within the study of religion to challenge our notions of what counts as religion. Students, we hope, will gain a sense of the complexity of graphic mediums in the very depiction of religion, but also sense how religious traditions are diverse, culturally embedded, and socially critical.

Chris Wong '17 looks at his sketches during a meeting of JT Waldman's comics lab.

Chris Wong ’17 looks at his sketches during a meeting of JT Waldman’s comics lab.

I wanted to teach this class with a colleague, so I had always imagined it as a co-taught class with Yvonne Chireau from Swarthmore. Co-teaching has distinct advantages, both for students and professors. It’s not really my cours,e but our course—I would have taught different texts if it were only “my” course. Yvonne comes to these issues from a different point of view than I do, and I find that refreshing. I am also interested in visual representation, and the ways that texts and images work with and against each other. Graphic mediums are a good place to do this kind of work—in the classroom and in my own research.

[There is a lab component] with our artist-in-residence, JT Waldman, and it is a critical feature of this course. It does not merely enhance or expand: it really is a central part of the way Yvonne and I imagine the learning environment. To say this a bit differently: making comics, or understanding the creative and productive features of comics, does not enhance or expand textual learning. It is a part of that learning. Making is a critical, reflective practice, and we want our students to understand the production and creative aspects of comics in order to critically study comics.


See what other courses the Religion Department is offering this semester.

Photos of a meeting of Waldman’s lab by Caleb Eckert ’17.

Cool Classes is a series that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford experience. 

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