Despite considerable evidence of the cultural significance of the comics medium, comics studies is still only an emerging discipline. Art Spiegelman’s Maus may have won the Pulitzer Prize over two decades ago, signaling that comics had finally gained the recognition needed to allow them entry into academia, and the scholarly acceptance of graphic novels is widespread; but specialists in comics studies are rare, as are courses devoted to the medium. So while the question of whether comics have a place in academic scholarship has been settled, comic studies as an independent discipline still struggles for legitimacy. The question remains: where does this emerging field belong?
In 2015, Elizabeth (Biz) Nijdam founded the Transnational Comics Studies Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop as the first official forum for comics studies at the University of Michigan. Scholarship and teaching on comics and graphic novels had been gaining momentum across campus for years, most notably in the work on graphic memoir by Sid Smith and Maya Barzilai’s recent book on the Golem figure, but there existed no formal network for comic scholars to support each other. With the founding of the Transnational Comics Studies Workshop, students, lecturers, faculty members, staff, and librarians have come together to pursue topics in comics studies, workshop research, and participate in fieldtrips. Furthermore, thanks to the generous support of the Rackham Graduate School and many other departments on campus, the workshop has been able to invite a number of guest speakers to present on topics as diverse as the AIDS crisis in LGBTQ comics, comics and disability, Jewishness in American comics, and comics pedagogy.
For more information on the Transnational Comics Studies Workshop and to join the Transnational Comics Studies Google Group, please contact Biz Nijdam (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/transnationalcomicsstudies) and check out our website for upcoming events, http://transnationalcomicsstudiesworkshop.blogspot.com.