Manga Intro Syllabus

[This course was taught in German, and the following course details are translated from German.]

Course title: Manga – Introduction to History and Theory

Instructor: Martin de la Iglesia

As taught at: Heidelberg University (Germany), Institute for European Art History

As taught in: Winter 2022/23

Level: Undergraduate (B.A. / Proseminar)

Course description: A comics industry in Japan developed relatively late under the influence of U.S. newspaper strips, but since the second half of the 20th century, the Japanese comic market outperforms all others in terms of audience size and amount of turnover. Today, the ‘manga look’ dominates the pop cultural image production in Japan and has also reached a considerable impact abroad. It is appropriate that now the field of (European) Art History also approaches the manga phenomenon with its own methods. In this course we get to know some of the most important manga of the last 100 years (longer series in excerpts), so that at the end of the semester we will have gained an overview of the development of comics in Japan and its major genres and artists. At the same time we will acquire, by reading secondary literature, methods with which not only Japanese but also most other comics can be analysed.

Recommended reading:

• Miriam Brunner: Manga. Paderborn 2010. [German]

• Paul Gravett: Manga. 60 Years of Japanese Comics. New York 2007.

• Toni Johnson-Woods (ed.): Manga. An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives. New York / London 2010.

• Brigitte Koyama-Richard: One Thousand Years of Manga. Paris 2007.

• Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere and Ryoko Matsuba (eds.): Manga. London 2019.

In-class presentation assignments

(One per student and – usually – per week. Only the first volume in a series needs to be covered.)

1. Nobutsume Oda & Katsuichi Kabashima: Shō-chan no bōken (Shō-chan Adventures), 1923. Translated and narrated by Nicholas Theisen at

2. Gajo Sakamoto: Tank Tankuro, 1934.

3. Osamu Tezuka: Janguru taitei (Kimba, the White Lion), 1950.

4. Chikako Urano: Attack No. 1 (Mila Superstar), 1968.

5. Kazuo Koike & Gōseki Kojima: Kozure ōkami (Lone Wolf & Cub), 1970.

6. Riyoko Ikeda: Versailles no bara (The Rose of Versailles), 1972.

7. Shigeru Mizuki: Sōin gyokusai seyo! (Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths), 1973.

8. Katsuhiro Ōtomo: Akira, 1982.

9. Masamune Shirow: Kōkaku Kidōtai (The Ghost in the Shell), 1989.

10. Jirō Taniguchi: Aruku hito (The Walking Man), 1990.

11. Naoko Takeuchi: Bishōjo senshi Sailor Moon, 1991.

12. Masashi Kishimoto: Naruto, 1999.

13. Kiyohiko Azuma: Azumanga Daiō, 1999.

14. Milk Morinaga: Kuchibiru tameiki sakurairo (Cherry Lips), 2003; OR (student’s choice):
Y. Fumino: Hidamari ga kikoeru (I Hear the Sunspot), 2013.


(Usually one per week.)

1. Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics. The Invisible Art. 1993. Chapter 1.

2. Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics. The Invisible Art. 1993. Chapter 3.

3. Nathalie Mälzer: “Taxonomien von Bild-Text-Beziehungen im Comic”, in: Nathalie Mälzer (ed.): Comics – Übersetzungen und Adaptionen. Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2015, pp. 47–63.

4. Ernst Gombrich: Chapter X, “The Experiment of Caricature”, from: Art and Illusion. A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. 1960.

5. Lambert Wiesing: “Die Sprechblase. Reale Schrift im Bild”, in: Realitätseffekte. Ästhetische Repräsentation des Alltäglichen im 20. Jahrhundert. Paderborn: Fink, 2008, pp. 25–46.

6. Neil Cohn, “Japanese Visual Language. The Structure of Manga”, 2007,

7. Jan-Noël Thon: “Who’s Telling the Tale? Authors and Narrators in Graphic Narrative”, in: Daniel Stein / Jan-Noël Thon (eds.): From Comic Strips to Graphic Novels. Contributions to the Theory and History of Graphic Narrative, 2nd ed., Berlin / Boston: de Gruyter, 2015, pp. 67–99.

8. Jason Dittmer: “Serialization and Displacement in Graphic Narrative”, in: Rob Allen / Thijs van den Berg (eds.): Serialization in Popular Culture, New York / London: Routledge, 2014, pp. 126–140.

9. Lukas R. A. Wilde: “Meta-narrative Knotenpunkte der Medienkonvergenz: Zu den medienwissenschaftlichen Potenzialen des japanischen kyara-Begriffs”, in: Hans-Joachim Backe et al. (eds.): Ästhetik des Gemachten: Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zur Animations- und Comicforschung. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2018, pp. 109–149. DOI: 10.25969/mediarep/11963

10. Marco Pellitteri: The Dragon and the Dazzle. Models, Strategies and Identities of Japanese Imagination. A European Perspective. Latina: Tunué, 2010. Chapter IV until IV-2, i.e. pp. 177–204.

11. Antonia Levi: “The sweet smell of Japan”. Animation in Asia 23 (2013), No. 1, pp. 3–18.


2 Comments on “Manga Intro Syllabus”

  1. […] Have you ever wondered what it would be like to teach–or take–a college survey course on manga? If so, you’ll want to check out the syllabus for Martin de la Iglesia’s Manga – Introduction to History and Theory, which he taught last year at Heidelberg University. [The 650-Cent Plague] […]

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