Continuing our series of posts introducing the current board for the Graduate Student Caucus, this week features Secretary/Treasurer, Adrienne Resha. Adrienne is a Ph.D. Student in American Studies at the College of William & Mary.
How long have you been involved with CSS? What brought you to CSS?
My one year anniversary falls on January 9th, 2019, according to the receipt for my Inks subscription. I had been working on something (“The Blue Age of Comic Books”) that was perfect for the first annual conference. I sent the proposal just before New Year’s, and knew that if it was accepted (it was), then I had to be a member to attend and present. It’s not a particularly romantic story, but it doesn’t have to be.
What was the first comic that you remember reading, or the first that really had an impact on you as a reader?
I’ve read comics for most of my life, but I grew up reading manga, not American comic books. The first American comic that really had an impact on me was G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan was the first Muslim superhero to have her own title. To have a character like her in a tradition that spanned, then, seventy-five years meant that she was (to borrow from Wilson) part of something bigger. A lot of people have rightfully compared her to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, but, for me, she’s most like Superman. That’s what I ended up writing my master’s thesis about, the series and Kamala Khan’s relationship to her antecedents, and I used an excerpt from that to apply to the doctoral program I’m in now. Ms. Marvel took me from reader to researcher.
What are you reading now that you think others should look into?
The new Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garrón. I loved Ahmed and Christian Ward’s work on Black Bolt, and recommend it to everyone, but I’m really excited to see what Ahmed gets to do with Miles Morales. I’m also reading My Hero Academia by Kōhei Horikoshi. Now’s a great time to get started with the manga thanks to Shonen Jump’s new digital subscription service. And I’m not reading it now, but when Ahmed’s run on Ms. Marvel with Minkyu Jung starts in March, I’ll be reading that.
What comics scholar has most impacted your current research, and why?
He wasn’t strictly a comics studies scholar, but, before Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, Jack Shaheen studied representations of Arabs in comic books. He advocated for more nuanced representations of Arabs and Muslims in American popular media. His work, particularly on comics, informs my work on superheroes like Kamala Khan, Khalid Nassour (Doctor Fate), and Simon Baz (Green Lantern).
Is there any recent shift in the field of comics studies that you are particularly excited about?
After I presented “Blue Age” at CSS18, Rebecca Wanzo tweeted, “one of the interesting things about comics studies is the interdisciplinary diversity and that there are SUCH divergent attachments to the field now. New people coming in without a long history of comics reading—producing very different perspectives.” I think that’s what I’m most excited about: that there are different perspectives emerging. I’m excited about being able to offer one of them, one of many.
Who is the comics writer/artist/scholar that has most influenced the way you think about the field?
I’m going to name two people since Josh gave about a dozen in one of his answers (and I could still name more). CSS Vice President Candida Rifkind and former GSC Secretary-Treasurer Rachel Miller. As much in their scholarship as in their service, they’ve shaped the way I relate to CSS and, more broadly, comics studies as a field.
If you could choose one comic writer or artist to meet who would it be and why?
G. Willow Wilson. I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for Ms. Marvel, and I’d love to be able to thank her in person. Sana Amanat, although neither a writer nor an artist, too.
What are you currently working on and do you have plans for future projects?
I’m reading for my qualifying exams right now. I’m also writing for Women Write About Comics. And, this year, I’ll start working in earnest on my dissertation. It’ll be about Blue Age superheroes Kamala Khan, Khalid Nassour, and Simon Baz; the people who made/make their comics; and the people, like and unlike me, who they represent.
How can folks get in contact with you to talk more about comics or your research?