Don't take this class. Just don't. I took this course solely because I needed another credit to make the cut-off for a full-time student, and I have never regretted taking a class more than I regret taking this one for a few reasons. First, I feel like I'm learning absolutely nothing. It's almost impossible to keep track of what's going on in the class, it's a struggle to pay attention so much so that I've taken to just painting my nails or playing Mario Kart in class. It's partly because nothing they say makes any sense, but mainly because of my next point. I have a running list of microaggressions I've experienced in this class, including but not limited to: 1) a girl in the class talking about how societal beauty standards are based on white supremacy (true) and one of these professors said something along the lines of "I'd argue that it's not white supremacy, but white subjectivity" which just is blatantly erasing systemic racism; 2) one of the professors asking a student of color if her parents didn't know how to spell because her name is spelled differently than the typical spelling and then proceeding to mispronounce her name in the following class; 3) professors having us read something Paul Levitz himself wrote that described a comic character as "American but perhaps a touch exotic". It's just a bunch of casual racism and ignorant comments about race, gender, sexuality, etc. They seem constantly uncomfortable when topics of racial issues in comics/graphic novels come up, and they clearly just do not know what they're talking about when it comes to marginalized communities throughout the history of comics. It's a terrible class, and these are terrible professors. Hard pass.
Prof. Levitz is one of the most brilliant professors at Columbia! He is incredibly funny, talented, savvy, and always willing to meet with you during office hours for career and life advice. Most importantly, he doesn't take himself too seriously and allows us to explore transmedia as first-time learners of the idea itself in an easily digestible format. He definitely generated enthusiasm in class discussion with his tone and knowledge of his field. He gave concrete examples of instances in his life with Transmedia at DC Comics. He gave great advice and contacts as to how to proceed with both the response papers and the final project. He was always available to meet with us in person or over the phone to discuss challenging concepts or paper assignments & very timely in grading our papers. Thank you for an incredible semester in Transmedia!
I was really excited going into this class—I'm a huge fan of graphic novels and think it's important that they be viewed as serious literature. This class left such a bad taste in my mouth, though. This class is not an engaging look at the history of graphic novels or a study of the development of the medium. You are literally just given a list of graphic novels on the syllabus to read and the lectures are a string of random anecdotes about them. There is a lot of breadth, but absolutely no depth. All of the assignments are vague and have nothing to do with the lectures, and are just given for the sake of having assignments. They try to run the lecture like a seminar, and what happens is that the same five people talk the whole class and the other students are given nothing to work with. There is also literally a "race week" and a "gender week" and the way the professors approached these subjects is stale and antiquated. What made the entire experience worse, though, was that the professors were not open at all to criticism. They wanted our feedback the last day, but spent the whole time justifying their decisions instead of considering the fact that their refusing to plan their lectures or write assignments comes off as lazy and disrespectful of our time. They also told us they didn't want to approach the texts from critical perspectives since they wanted to "present a buffet" of works for us to read instead. This class is a survey in the most basic sense, and you could get more out of reading the books on your own then sitting through the painful, shallow lectures. It was also infuriating how strictly the papers were graded when we were given so little to work with. This class was not only disrespectful to the students investing time in it, but disrespectful to the medium itself. It's been fighting for years to be accepted as a legitimate literature in the academy, and this class hurts the progress it has made in the past decades.