This summer, for the first time, I'm teaching a course for UCLA's California Rare Book School (CalRBS). Titled "The Social and Material Lives of Comic Art, or, How Comics Get Around," the course is part of a new partnership between CalRBS and the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives in Washington, D.C.
I'm thrilled to be doing this! As I envision it, the course will be a hands-on workshop that will draw upon the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and other D.C.-area resources, involve several site visits or field trips, and bring in multiple guest speakers. If you'd like to know more about it, or would like to apply, visit:
Also, feel free to email me at: email@example.com. Here is the official description:
Popular yet personal, branded as trivial yet rich with meaning, comics are more than cultural scraps or leftovers. In fact, comics are everywhere: they are art objects, storying machines, readable games, tools for disseminating knowledge, and platforms for worldbuilding and political argument. Whether viewed as historical artifacts or distinctive literary and artistic works, comics carry culture with them. In this workshop, we will study how comics move through the world, socially and materially, how they can make a difference in the world, and how we, as teachers, researchers, and creators, can use them.
Comic art has a complex social life. Comic books, graphic novels, strips, and cartoons come in varied material (and now digital) forms and reach diverse readerships. Many are thought to be ephemeral, as disposable as yesterday’s newspapers or tweets; some are built to last. Many last despite their seeming ephemerality, archived by collectors, fans, and, increasingly, archiving professionals and research libraries. Conserving, organizing, and accessing these artifacts can be a challenge but also a profound pleasure; comics offer us opportunities for creative engagement as well as deep research. Our workshop will study how comics come to be, how they circulate, where and how they are archived, and how we may teach with them.
We will focus on comics’ physical materiality, on firsthand experience and “show and tell.” Our hands-on sessions will mix varied forms of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century comic art, from newspaper pages to comic magazines, from graphic novels to minicomix, zines, and webcomics. Drawing on the resources of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, we will explore the material and social histories of comics, the idiosyncrasies of comics production, including differences among American, European, and Japanese traditions, and how comics have been shored against time by collectors. We will consider comics as products of various industries, cultures, and social scenes—as historic artifacts, yes, but also urgent dispatches from the here and now. Participants will come out of this workshop knowing:
Do visit the CalRBS website, above, to find out more about requirements and credits! Also, please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested!
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