The letter "F",
                      placed as an ornamental drop cap. First letter in
                      the first word--"For"or much of our existence—from the cave paintings of Lascaux in France to graffiti tagging on vacant buildings everywhere—humans have told stories through pictures. Sequential art (the fancy name for what we used to call comics) is its most contemporary manifestation, offering readers/viewers (?) a visual text, sometimes accompanied with words, meant to be “read/seen” by the viewer.  

Our always evolving experimental class offers students from all majors and minors a brief study of sequential art from images in paleolithic cave paintings to medieval manuscripts, followed by a consideration of the aesthetic, formal, and stylistic features of comics across cultures.
As we wrestle with these outrageous graphic monsters, students will develop an appreciation of, and a language for, analyzing comics as an art form. But more than that, we will come to experience comics for all they are, including: 1]. the precursor and controversial template for motion pictures back in the day; 2]. a revolutionary art form that put the revolution into cultural resistance back in the 1960s; and, 3]: perhaps most interestingly, a viral medium, a growing virus-like mirror/medium that gives us the next, best incarnation of literature today, here in the 21st century, in the age of the smartphone (and Covid-19).

Comics, like anything else, are always evolving--ostensibly identical in terms of gender politics, consider these two selections, one, from the 1970s, penned by Dan De Carlo, the second, from 2019, by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk:

Betty and Veronica, Archie Comics, circa 1970s
click to enlarge

Man-Eaters #1,
Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, et al, Image Comics, 2019
Click to enlarge

We will look to chronicle these changes throughout the semester as we consider history, literature, art, and comics, in the age of Covid-19.

Student Learning Outcomes

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Usually, state-mandated or CSU-authored "student learning outcomes" read like the drivel you don't read when you update the OS of your phone or laptop.  We here at the Virus Eye/I think differently.  Here's our promise.  If you do all the readings and attend all of the classes, I promise you will be able to talk about comics, literature, art, television, and culture as well as Nerdwriter, aka Evan Puschak. Or, at the very least, pretty close to his capabilities!

Watch both of these whether you are familiar with comics or not!

Nerdwriter on Art Spiegelman's MAUS

Nerdwriter on Neil Gaiman's THE SANDMAN

If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to contact Student Ability Success Center at (619) 594-6473. To avoid any delay in the receipt of your accommodations, you should contact Student Ability Success Center as soon as possible. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive, and that I cannot provide accommodations based upon disability until I have received an accommodation letter from Student Ability Success Center. Your cooperation is appreciated.

More info: https://newscenter.sdsu.edu/student_affairs/sds/Default.aspx

the Letter "T" used
                    as a dropcaphis is a university-level course in comics, literature, film, art, and the internet--as it is thematically focused on issues of representation, subjectivity, psychology, and sexuality, it should not come as a shock that students in the class may, from time to time, encounter characters, ideas, situations, images, language, and scenarios that make them uneasy.

WELCOME TO THE UNIVERSITY!  The antithesis of a place of worship, the flipside of a space dedicated to faith and belief, the university is a site of questioning--a sacred space of critical thinking, skepticism, cynicism and irony. So open your eyes, jump-start your mind, and prepare to enter the choppy corridors of the always already evolving world of comics and history.

Engl 157: Comics &
History Passport
A Description of How Your Work Will Be Evaluated in #viruseye2020

This section of your online syllabus documents how your work will be evaluated Fall 2020. Here you will find all the little gates, cages, locks, statutes, ordinances, edicts, and formulas that allow our innovative comics and history collective to thrive.

Let me underscore that you have absolute intellectual freedom in our seminar, BUT to receive these awesome rights, you must also follow the serious but reasonable responsibilities outlined on this part of your syllabus.

 After all, we want to have a great time, to be the best literature/cultural studies class on the West Coast, even!

Take that USC! Eat my dust UCLA!
And it will be easier to achieve this semester as they, like us, are online all the time!

But to do that, we need room for intellectual play--a safe asylum within which to forge our comics-laced, history-filled wanderlust. So, then, read these laws carefully and thoroughly, so when you sign on for our first class on August 25, 2020, you will know what you are in for!


Why visit me during 'office hours'? Why not? If only to experience the madness of my working studio space!  You are warmly invited to visit me in office hours at least once during the semester if you can. 

{Ok, so that paragraph previous was obviously written pre-COVID... and while I would like to meet each and every one of you, it just won't happen this Fall 2020 where Zoom will be the name of the game. Check back here after the semester begins and I will have sorted out how we are going to do office hours (maybe via zoom, maybe via a Canvas chatroom, or a Google hangout--we will figure it out).

At SDSU, it's easy to fall through the cracks, to feel that you are nothing but a Red ID# or some warm pile of sentient flesh filling a seat. In order to convince you that the Professor teaching you is occasionally human, please make a point during the semester to take the time to introduce yourself whether it be by piping up in class, zapping me an email, or posting on one of our social media channels.

Regardless of how we end up arranging things, if you find my posted office hours are inconvenient, do not hesitate to email me for a phone or zoom appointment either at memo@sdsu.edu or bnericci@mail.sdsu.edu

You can also call me at 619.594.1524 via telephone, but keep in mind I don't check my medieval office landline very often!


BUY THE BOOKS AND READ THEM--DON'T COME TO SEMINAR WITHOUT YOUR BOOK! Though we very much adore living in the 21st century, we will, for the most part use ANALOG, printed books in this class. So check out each one and buy them now!


When you enter this room for class you will have completed the reading that appears on the day-to-day class calendar, aka the Daily Lineup!  Please note the word "finished" (not "started," not "skimmed," not "glanced," and most decidedly NOT "I read the Cliffs/Sparks Notes and a review of the damned thing online!"). Coming to a university literature/film/cultural studies class without doing the reading is like a gardener trying to raise roses without getting her/his hands filthy with shit, a surgeon trying to operate without a scalpel, a fireman without her/his ax, a prostitute without ..., ... er, ... well, I better stop there--you get the gist of it.

Do the readings. 

Do them twice if you can MAKE the time! I know, you are saying to yourself, "they don't make me read in my other classes" or some other sort of nonsense... well here, you must! Think twice about joining us online if you have not finished the readings--the quality of our class depends upon your dedicated work and your relentless and independent curiosity. Without your periodic intellectual donations, the class is likely to evolve into a boring, even painful waste of time. 


Ok, the following Passport Rule 3 was also written pre-COVID ... I am leaving it here for the gags, image and link!

Your laptop will be asleep IN YOUR BAGS during class--or, better yet, resting in your dorm room or apartment.

Have you noticed how anytime a student uses a laptop in an auditorium there is a "cone of distraction" alongside and behind the student using a computer?

This is usually due to said student surfing the web via wi-fi perusing erotic delights or god knows what. I was recently at a cool (ok, it was slightly boring, I confess) lecture by a noted writer--as I tried to listen to her, in front of me, a diverted student (attending the lecture, no doubt, for extra-credit) was perusing sites like these (nsfw or school).

So, laptops are GREAT for entering your notes AFTER class, but they will not be allowed in our lecture hall. If you have an issue with this, schedule a meeting with me during office hours to chat the first week of class.


Your beloved magnificent iPhone, your cherished Galaxy, your fetishized Pixel, or even your primordial pager will be off, off, OFF during class meetings; if for some reason you are expecting an emergency call, set it on VIBRATE (for privacy, pleasure, or both!) and sit in the back near an exit after letting me know in advance before class that you are expecting an emergency phone-call. Cellphones KILL collective spaces of learning with their ill-timed, annoying clattering rings, bongs, squeaks, chirps, and themes.

Yes, the trauma of that delayed text, yes, the horror of that missed hook-up call, yes, the loss of the buzz of that random Tinder swipe will no doubt doom you to years and years on an psychoanalyst's couch, but we, the rest of us, will gain some silence, a kind of sanctuary without which ideas wither on the vine. We are NOT joking about this unthinkable edict! Don't end up like this former student from another Engl 301 I taught back in the day: 

click to enlarge

PASSPORT RULE 5 Charlie-Delta_Thief

PLAGIARISM is for cads, thieves, and idiots who desire an "F" for the class. Plagiarism comes from the Latin word, "plagiarius" which means kidnapper, plunderer, or (get this!) thief--not a GOOD thing.

In the university, plagiarism refers to the art and crime of presenting other people's work under your own signature, aka cutting and pasting copied crap from Wikipedia--definitely a BAD thing. While your professor is forbidden by CSU/SDSU code from tattooing the word LOSER on the foreheads of guilty students, he can promise that felonious students will be remanded to the state-authorized SDSU executioners.  Read THIS as well--SDSU is SERIOUS about this shit, so don't take any chances!  Rely on your own singular mind and imagination!

Major Course Requirements


  • 40%  Attendance, Quizzes, In-class "Panic-Inducing Challenges", In-class participation, In-class writing, cineTREKS, Office Hour visits, etc.--note that "in-class" means "in-class" that is you can expect assignments to magically appear DURING our Zoom class sessions.
  • 30%  Your Mid-Term, aka the Mid-Semester VirusEyeChallenge
  • 30%  Final Examination, aka the Final VirusEyeChallenge


Coming to class for each seminar session is NOT optional--the whole point of this class is to work together, the idea being that we creatively and magicly convert our classroom into a chaotic, unpredictable, and exciting intellectual laboratory.

Missing class, you miss, as well, the whole point of the adventure. 

That DOES NOT MEAN that we will meet as a ZOOM class for every class session--but it does mean that when we do, you are expected to be there attending virtually.  What does that mean? It means DON'T SCHEDULE WORK FOR DURING CLASS TIME as you will be SOL, "soooooooo out of luck."

So please bypass no more than three classes during the semester--you are responsible for any work/notes you miss when you are absent and can PRESUME that what you missed that day was important! If you miss MORE than three classes during the term and your grade will decay in an ugly way. EXAMPLES: your hard-earned A- will morph into a B-; your "gentleman's C" will appear on the webportal as a "D," etc. etc. Ditching this class too often will be as fun as a case of flesh-eating virus. While attendance was not really an issue last semester during the beginnings of the COVID crisis, it will be this fall as we all go into this semester with eyes open.

During the semester, you can expect several In-class Panic-Inducing Challenges otherwise known as CHECK-YOU-DID-THE-READING QUIZZES. You can expect these miserable quizzes from time to time, the number of quizzes depending on how many of you are nostalgic for high school. In other words, if everyone acts like a talented university student, we will enjoy FEW if any quizzes during our semester.


Our main social media site for this class, Facebook-based, is located here. If you are a member of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s mad virus-like experiment in digitized narcissim, then you are expected to post class-related links, images, videos, articles, etc at least ONCE a month or 5 total for the whole semester. If you have not bought into Zuckerberg’s mad experiment and stay away from Facebook like the plague, you have a second choice--you can directly submit a posting to the #viruseye2020 tumblr page--anonymous submissions are allowed here for those of your who don't want Edward Snowden peering in your digital window! 

You can also contribute to your own instagram hashtag#, which goes by the catchy, if difficult to type, #viruseye2020. If Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram remain alien to your consciousness, you can send your suggested links/images/videos to me via email to bnericci@sdsu.edu; I don’t promise that I will post ALL of your materials but I will try, however, to see that some of them make their way to the fabulous internets. 

What are you expected to share via social media? 

Things you run across that relate to our class readings and discussions--you do not HAVE TO WRITE a long essay with your postings... a couple of pointed, pithy, well-crafted sentences will do, enough to give me and your classmates a sense of a connection to ideas developed during the semester in our class.

Your Mid-Term, aka the Mid-Semester VirusEyeChallenge, and Final Examination, aka the Final VirusEyeChallenge

There will be both a Mid-Term VirusEYE Challenge, a Mid-Semester test administered on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 11am via Zoom or a service to be determined ...

...a Final VirusEYE Challenge (aka, the FINAL EXAM) on the last regularly scheduled day of class: Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 11am--warm thanks to Shiraz Nicpon, your colleague whose nifty eye corrected my dates posted previously here in error.  Your final is absolutely comprehensive; it assumes you have read all the books and screened all the movies that are part of our required work. If you do the work, the final is a breeze--even "fun" if you can believe it. If you slack off, you will find the final In-Class Imagination Challenge as enjoyable as being the waiter for the Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo clan!

Virus Eye/I Graduate Teaching Assistants and Section Leaders!
David Ornelas
email: dornelas AT sdsu DOT edu


Hello, I'm David Ornelas. This will be my second year here at SDSU in the MALAS Program. I received my B.A. from SDSU in Rhetoric Writing Studies. The most intriguing thing about comics and history, is the deeper meaning beyond what's in front of your face. This class will open your eyes to so much more than just pictures in a book . Dr. Nericcio is a great Professor and I know you'll all enjoy this course!  {note from Bill: "I did not pay him to say that."}
Tikva Cohen
email: tacohen AT sdsu DOT edu

Hello everyone!  I am Tikva Cohen, bibliophile and tea addict.  I am a second-year Master's student getting my degree in Literature.  I originally attended UCSD for undergrad and got a degree in Biological Anthropology.  I read books in every genre but I really enjoy science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and Victorian literature.  I have read a few comics, but my favorite are probably Calvin and Hobbes, Sandman, and Monstress.  I look forward to learning with you in this class!
Dr. William (Bill or Memo) Nericcio
email: bnericci AT sdsu DOT edu

William "Memo" Nericcio, a Cultural Studies Professor at SDSU since 1991, began his career as a Latin Americanist focused 20th century marvels by Carlos Fuentes, Rosario Castellanos, and Gabriel García Márquez to name a few. From his first Assistant Professorship at the University of Connecticut he moved to SDSU in 1991, his work has expanded into critical studies of film, mass culture, television, and cutting-edge Latinx fiction. With a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MA/Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University, Nericcio presently directs the MALAS Cultural Studies MA @SDSU and also runs SDSU Press, the oldest independent press in the CSU system (and its new comic book imprint, Amatl Comix). His ALA Choice Award-winning book in film studies, Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America appeared in 2007. His latest book, co-authored with Fede Aldama, Talking #browntv: Latinas and Latinos on the Screen, appeared December 2019 from the Ohio State University Press.

Our Fall 2020
Lineup of Required Books Includes:

SDSU Aztec Shops Campus Bookstore Link

Click each cover above the Aztec Shops Link graphic to see
the correct print edition of all the books we are studying
together this semester!  Should you buy print editions
or digital editions? What about pirated pdfs?

You are welcome to pursue what you see fit, but, despite
the expense, nothing beats working with the best,
printed edition of the book.

Should you rent or buy? That is up to you!  But
remember, your bookshelf is like a mirror of the
journey of your psyche--a snapshot of the
evolution of your imaginations.

Empty bookshelf?  =  Erased  intellectual legacy

The Fine Print |  SDSU POLICIES

Accommodations:  If you are a student with a disability and are in need of accommodations for this class, please contact Student Ability Success Center at (619) 594-6473 as soon as possible.  Please know accommodations are not retroactive, and I cannot provide accommodations based upon disability until I have received an accommodation letter from Student Ability Success Center.

Student Privacy and Intellectual Property: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) mandates the protection of student information, including contact information, grades, and graded assignments. I will use [TinyLetter.com] to communicate with you, and I will not post grades or leave graded assignments in public places. Students will be notified at the time of an assignment if copies of student work will be retained beyond the end of the semester or used as examples for future students or the wider public. Students maintain intellectual property rights to work products they create as part of this course unless they are formally notified otherwise.

Religious observances: According to the University Policy File, students should notify the instructors of affected courses of planned absences for religious observances by the end of the second week of classes

Student email addresses: Students are provided with an SDSU Gmail account for their official use.  This SDSU email address will be used for all communications.  Per university policy, students are responsible for checking their official university email once per day, please see Student Official Email Address Use Policy here.

Academic Honesty:  The University adheres to a strict policy prohibiting cheating and plagiarism. Examples of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

      copying, in part or in whole, from another's test or other examination;

      obtaining copies of a test, an examination, or other course material
without the permission of the instructor;

      collaborating with another or others in work to be presented without the permission of the instructor;

      falsifying records, laboratory work, or other course data;

      submitting work previously presented in another course, if contrary to the rules of the course;

      altering or interfering with grading procedures;

      assisting another student in any of the above;

      using sources verbatim or paraphrasing without giving proper attribution (this can include phrases, sentences, paragraphs and/or pages of work);

      copying and pasting work from an online or offline source directly and calling it your own;

      using information you find from an online or offline source without giving the author credit;

      replacing words or phrases from another source and inserting your own words or phrases.

The California State University system requires instructors to report all instances of academic misconduct to the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities. Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary review by the University and may lead to probation, suspension, or expulsion.  Instructors may also, at their discretion, penalize student grades on any assignment or assessment discovered to have been produced in an academically dishonest manner.

Resources for students:  A complete list of all academic support services--including the Writing Center and  Math Learning Center--is available on the Student Affairs’ Academic Success website. Counseling and Psychological Services (619-594-5220) offers confidential counseling services by licensed therapists; you can Live Chat with a counselor at http://go.sdsu.edu/student_affairs/cps/therapist-consultation.aspx between 4:00pm and 10:00pm, or call San Diego Access and Crisis 24-hour Hotline at (888) 724-7240.

Sexual violence / TItle IX mandated reporting:  As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment on our campus. I am a mandated reporter in my role as an SDSU employee. It is my goal that you feel able to share information related to your life experiences in classroom discussions, in your written work, and in our one-on-one meetings. I will seek to keep the information you share private to the greatest extent possible. However, I am required to share information regarding sexual violence on SDSU’s campus with the Title IX coordinator, Jessica Rentto 619-594-6017. She (or her designee) will contact you to let you know about accommodations and support services at SDSU and possibilities for holding accountable the person who harmed you. Know that you will not be forced to share information you do not wish to disclose and your level of involvement will be your choice. If you do not want the Title IX Officer notified, instead of disclosing this information to your instructor, you can speak confidentially with the following people on campus and in the community. They can connect you with support services and discuss options for pursuing a University or criminal investigation. Sexual Violence Victim Advocate 619-594-0210 or Counseling and Psychological Services 619-594-5220, psycserv@sdsu.edu. For more information regarding your university rights and options as a survivor of sexual misconduct or sexual violence, please visit titleix.sdsu.edu or sdsutalks.sdsu.edu.

Classroom Conduct Standards:  SDSU students are expected to abide by the terms of the Student Conduct Code in classrooms and other instructional settings.  Prohibited conduct includes:

      Willful, material and substantial disruption or obstruction of a University-related activity, or any on-campus activity.

      Participating in an activity that substantially and materially disrupts the normal operations of the University or infringes on the rights of members of the University community.

      Unauthorized recording, dissemination, or publication (including on websites or social media) of lectures or other course materials.

      Conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including

1.   physical abuse, threats, intimidation, or harassment.

2.   sexual misconduct.

Violation of these standards will result in referral to appropriate campus authorities.

Medical-related absences: Students are instructed to contact their professor/instructor/coach in the event they need to miss class, etc. due to an illness, injury or emergency.  All decisions about the impact of an absence, as well as any arrangements for making up work, rest with the instructors.  Student Health Services (SHS) does not provide medical excuses for short-term absences due to illness or injury. When a medical-related absence persists beyond five days, SHS will work with students to provide appropriate documentation. When a student is hospitalized or has a serious, ongoing illness or injury, SHS will, at the student's request and with the student’s consent, communicate with the student's instructors via the Vice President for Student Affairs and may communicate with the student's Assistant Dean and/or the Student Ability Success Center.  

SDSU Economic Crisis Response Team: If you or a friend are experiencing food or housing insecurity, technology concerns, or any unforeseen financial crisis, it is easy to get help! Visit sdsu.edu/ecrt for more information or to submit a request for assistance.

SDSU's Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT) aims to bridge the gap in resources for students experiencing immediate food, housing, or unforeseen financial crises that impacts student success. Using a holistic approach to well-being, ECRT supports students through crisis by leveraging a campus-wide collaboration that utilizes on and off-campus partnerships and provides direct referrals based on each student’s unique circumstances. ECRT empowers students to identify and access long term, sustainable solutions in an effort to successfully graduate from SDSU. Within 24 to 72 hours of submitting a referral, students are contacted by the ECRT Coordinator and are quickly connected to the appropriate resources and services.

For students who need assistance accessing technology for their classes, visit our ECRT website (sdsu.edu/ecrt) to be connected with the SDSU library's technology checkout program. The technology checkout program is available to both SDSU and Imperial Valley students. 


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