Comics in the Curriculum

Graphic novels and comics are, for the most part, a recent addition to the Columbia University Libraries collections, and this addition reflects both the variety and sophistication of the medium as well as critical and academic interest. 

The “graphic novel” is a format—narrative conveyed through sequential art—not a genre, and as such these works encompass a myriad of genres and artistic styles, as you can see in the images here.

While these materials can be read for entertainment—as can much of the literature in the libraries’ collections—they can also be incorporated into research and curricula to illustrate a variety of themes.  The examples that follow merely scratch the surface.

Each theme begins with a familiar image from traditional art, one likely to be used to illustrate that theme in teaching or scholarship.  Each image is matched with selections from graphic novels that can be used in a similar way.

For more information about Butler’s graphic novels collection, contact Karen Green at


Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Jeremy Dauber, Richard Bulliet, Janet Gertz, David Ortiz, Erik Sommer, Emily Holmes, Alexis Hagadorn, Jen Rutner, and Jim Hanley’s Universe.

Exhibit Curator

Karen Green

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Digital Humanities Center / 305 Butler Library / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-7547 /