The Sainthood of Frank Miller

Today I improvised a lecture/discussion in my Comics & Literature class at CCC, wherein we tackled the timeliness of Zach Snyder’s film 300. Our class is heading into finals next week, and although I hadn’t planned on engaging Frank Miller’s graphic novel nor Snyder’s film in the course, given all the water cooler talk about the film this week in the United States and how it may very well be at the center of the ongoing international diplomatic crisis between the US and Iran, I thought it was important for us to at least scratch the surface of the very complex issues underneath.

I have been recording our discussions all quarter long and creating podcasts that until now have only been available (via a Blackboard course shell) to the students enrolled in the class. Once the course is over next week, I plan to release these podcasts to everyone via RSS. Today’s conversation, though, is something that I think shouldn’t wait; hence, I’m releasing it here and now. (filesize: 37.2 MB; run-time: 1 hr 32 min)

A bit of warning and context: some of the language here is a bit coarse, and the subject matter careens into politics, religion, violence and gender roles. This largely reflects a comfort level amongst our group, but also passionate responses that at times probably feel more than a little tense. There is a real knife’s edge to this conversation, and I was intentionally stirring the pot with some potentially offensive statements to fuel the fire. I believe the ends justify the means in this particular case, but some of you who download and listen to this might feel otherwise.

It is probably helpful, too, for you to know what we’ve been studying in the course:
Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics
McSweeneys #13 (Chris Ware, ed.)
Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons: Watchmen
Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis
Daniel Clowes: Ghost World

Also key to this discussion is this post over at Girls Read Comics (And They’re Pissed) by Karen Healey. There is passing reference, too, to some things Curtis White said about the film in his lecture last night.

I hope those of you who do end up downloading and listening to the conversation will leave your thoughts and comments on this thread. My intention in posting this discussion is to extend the conversation indefinitely.


10 responses to “The Sainthood of Frank Miller

  • Karen Healey

    This was absolutely fascinating. I was immensely interested (and occasionally slightly appalled) in your students’ reactions and arguments, and think you did an excellent job in challenging preconceptions and provoking debate.

    I’m also interested by what I could make out of the class composition. Am I right in thinking there’s just the one woman in the class? I could only distinguish one female voice, usually in chorus.

  • trevor

    Thanks for listening, Karen. Your review articulated a lot of important issues and helped direct our conversation.

    The class composition, not surprisingly, is mostly male, but we were about half capacity yesterday. There are five women enrolled in the class.

  • darkUncle

    in your podcast one of the students mentioned that he felt parts of the movie really used some of the same graphical impacts ween within the comic.
    Here is a frame/Cell comparison of some of the more succesful exapmles of the movie magic.

  • Karen Healey

    I’m not surprised by the numbers – five was more than I was expecting!

    I particularly noticed something I’ve seen very often in male-dominated discourse which came through really clearly to my ear. A couple of times, one of the women would start to say something, with a drawn out “Weeeell” (a really common tactic for women trying to insert an opinion) and then be talked over – not with any apparent malice, but just because someone else had something to say and talked until it was said. Was this apparent in the live discussion?

    I’m not trying to attack your classroom methods – I just wondered if this was really as bad as it appeared in the recording, if it was peculiar to this one disccussion, or if your students had cosndiered it at all.

  • Karen Healey

    Oh, lord, and I really can spell, I promise. My apologies!

  • trevor

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re referring to, Karen. Are you saying that *I* was doing the “Welllll…” thing? A male student? Both? I can’t say that this is something I’ve noticed in the class, but we do have a pretty vocal group of people in the room, and there has always been a lot of people cutting each other off once the discussions really get rolling. You’ll note, I hope, that a male student cut *me* off mid-sentence at least one time in the discussion, too, so no one is really exempt.

  • Karen Healey

    No, I’m saying that several times a female student (possibly the same one, I can’t tell) will start with a Welllll and then someone will jump in.

    I’m not suggesting that men are exempt from conversation cutting in, and of course with more men in the class the cutter in is much more likely to be male, but in a discussion where nearly every contribution was in a male voice, it was really noticeable when every female starting comment was overtalked.

    As I said, it’s something that’s been noticed a lot in male-dominated discourse – it’s not unusual in any way, but given some of the (very interesting) discussion topics, I wondered if it had ever come up in class.

  • trevor

    Interesting, Karen. I’ll have to go back and give it a listen.

  • charmaine

    Umm, I don’t think I relaxed my eyebrows during this whole podcast. I felt like I should have kept tabs on how many times “Kick Persian Ass.” I am mostly glad that I am in your other comic class. However, I do miss CC and it’s public experiment vibe sometimes.. I wish our class wasn’t so early in the morning though. It is interesting to see how things translate into our class. Did this class even discuss “Persepolis?” Cheers to you and your strength!
    One thing that I wish could happen that I think lack with some of the podcasts I’ve listened to is the lack of full or hint description of reaction in the class. Does this make sense? Perhaps it would come off as redundant in the lecture. I dunno, just a thought.

  • charmaine

    FYI, I did hear a female, “WELLLL” chime in a few times. Then a sigh or “humff”.

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