Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Comics as a subject of academic study

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Very interesting article by Kim O’Connor in Pacific Standard, though at the link you must scroll down a lot, past a lot of other Pacific Standard links. (This happens on Chrome, not on Firefox, and I’ve called—they just made a lot of updates, so they will probably fix this fast.) Once you finally get to the article, it begins:

Comics scholar Hillary Chute has a curious origin story. Once an unassuming graduate student in New Jersey, her life changed forever when Art Spiegelman saw an obscure Web piece she had written and invited her to a party. Soon thereafter he asked her to collaborate on MetaMaus, the companion book to his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel. It turned out to be the first of many unconventional working relationships Chute has enjoyed with practicing cartoonists like Alison Bechdel.

Since 2005, the year she met Spiegelman, Chute has interviewed cartoonists for outlets like the Village Voice and the Believer in parallel with her academic work. Her new book, Outside the Box (University of Chicago Press, 2014), collects 11 of those conversations. She also just co-edited a special comics-centric issue of Critical Inquiry (“academe’s most prestigious theory journal,” per the New York Times). It is probably the only academic publication to date that features cover art by R. Crumb.

Of course, comics haven’t always been the objects of “serious” criticism. Not so long ago, Maus was one of the few graphic texts considered respectable enough to teach in higher-ed classrooms. Over the last 10 years, the field of comics studies has been expanding very, very rapidly, with English departments embracing everything from mass-produced superhero fare to the groundbreaking comics journalism of Joe Sacco. At the same time, cartooning as a practice has become more institutionalized. Underground heroes like Ivan Brunetti have day jobs as art department faculty members, and there is at least one dedicated degree-granting facility, The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont.

In May 2012, Chute assembled 17 of the world’s most famous cartoonists for a conference, “Comics: Philosophy and Practice,” at the University of Chicago, where she works as an English professor. At the time, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 July 2014 at 10:44 am

Posted in Art, Books, Education

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