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Introductions: Josh Kopin — Webmaster

Gory-LayoutHello! My name is Josh Kopin, and I’m your CSS Grad Caucus webmaster. I’m currently a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where I’m attempting to sort out the place of  Charles Schulz’s Peanuts in the American cultural and religious imagination of the 1950s and 1960s, particularly as it relates to evolving views of children and teenagers. I’m also interested in pursuing questions about the formal capabilities of comics as a medium, and to that end have presented on the connection between narration and fine art in Gilbert Hernandez’s Heartbreak Soup stories and am developing an essay on Jack Jackson and historiography for presentation this January.

As the CSSGC webmaster, I also serve as the editor for this site and will be helping the Exec Board develop and expand it over the next few months. If there are resources you would like to see us add or if you have another kind of feedback, please let us know by sending an email to cssgradcaucus[AT] Additionally, we are open (and hoping!) to receive pitches from graduate students for short articles (of around 500 words) or comics. If you are interested in contributing to this space, please let us know.

Introductions: Colin Beineke — Vice President

i'mstudyingcomicsHello everyone!  My name is Colin Beineke and I am the Vice President of the CSS Graduate Student Caucus.  I am currently a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Missouri, working on a dissertation which proposes to examine the development and deployment of “house styles” among contemporary comics publishers.

I am more than thrilled to be serving on the Executive Board of the GSC.  Working in comics studies, especially as a graduate student, can at times feel like an isolated and   unguided endeavor; our chosen specialization situates us in an exciting yet still crystalizing environment.  One of the goals of the GSC is to help graduate students interested  in comics studies navigate the challenges that such an academic undertaking and career path proffers.

I whole-heartedly believe that the recent, current, and upcoming generations of graduate students working in comics studies are having, and are going to have, a radical  influence on the future of the field.  One of the greatest things about our young discipline is that there remains so much ground left to cover!  And graduate students are  playing a vital role in the excavation.  I have read articles, theses, and dissertations and attended conference panels and roundtables which challenge and advance existing  scholarship through their originality, and with their curiosity illuminate unacknowledged expanses of comics history, culture, and texts.

I began my own graduate career intending to focus on folklore, but when I discovered the burgeoning field of comics studies while writing a seminar paper on folklore in  Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, I quickly jumped ship.  I have never regretted taking the path I now find myself upon; along the way I have found that the comics studies community not only shares my enthusiasm for the comics form but is genuinely invested in seeing young scholars grow and contribute to the field.

Aside from my dissertation, my current projects include two articles under peer-review (fingers crossed!).  The first is a co-written piece which focuses on the life and work of Rose O’Neill, the first female comic strip artist in the United States and creator of the Kewpies.  The second article is an expansion of a paper I presented at last year’s International Comic Arts Forum.  This article proposes the concept of “comicity” – which, in short, is the comics equivalent of literariness or cinematic – as a way of negotiating the relationship between comics and other art forms.

As the Comics Studies Society continues to cement its foundations and we move towards the official opening of membership registration, we need your help in spreading the word about the GSC.  Please share our website ( and like/follow our Facebook ( and Twitter pages (@CSS_GSC).

Introductions: Biz Nijdam — Member at Large

Alle Frauen sind mutig stark schon Hi! My name is Elizabeth Nijdam – though everyone calls me Biz —  and I am a Member-At-Large on the Executive Board for the CSS  Graduate Student Caucus. I am also a Doctoral Candidate in the  Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the  University  of Michigan in Ann Arbor working on German-speaking  comics as well  as the Secretary for the International Comic Arts  Forum’s Executive  Committee. My dissertation traces the artistic  and political legacies of  the German Democratic Republic into the  comics of unified Germany  by examining the art of several East German graphic artists who began working in the medium after 1989. My primary focus are the comics of Anke Feuchtenberger, which I examine through the lens of the politics surrounding German unification and within the context of East German artistic traditions. As the primary artist collaborating with the activists of the East German Independent Women’s Association, East German feminist politics, opposing unification and rallying for East German reform, informed Feuchtenberger’s artistic production, connecting politics to her art and vice versa. I therefore investigate the thematic influence of Feuchtenberger’s unification politics and feminist poster art on her early sequential art before turning to Feuchtenberger’s aesthetics, which I situate in the terms of Hillary Chute’s book project Graphic Women, the politics of German Expressionism and the East German theatrical avant-garde. I interpret Feuchtenberger’s art as inextricably autobiographical and argue that, in line with Hilary Chute’s analysis of feminine graphic autobiography’s idiom of witness, Feuchtenberger sets up a visual language of self-representation that engages French feminist theory on feminine writing “in order to embody individual and collective experience, to put contingent selves and histories into form.” Dealing more with intimate relationships than public debates on gender equality, Feuchtenberger’s comics examine the power dynamics that exist between men and women from an autobiographical perspective. Existing at the intersection of history and autobiography, Feuchtenberger’s posters and comics collapse the personal and the public, integrating the artist herself into debates on women’s rights and the post-unification politics of gender through abstracted autobiography, graphic female sexuality and explicit subject matter.

The flourishing comics and graphic art culture around 1989 and the prominence of East German artists within this scene has not received much scholarly attention, yet this visual culture and its accompanying aesthetics tell us something important about the fate of East German artistic practice after unification. Looking at comics collectives PGH Glühende Zukunft (1989-1993), Renate (1989-) and monogatari (1999-2005), my dissertation illustrates that East German artistic traditions were not always subjugated to western capitalist modes of production after 1989 and that East German artists, trained under the doctrines of socialist realism, nourished by socialist notions of public art and engaged in traditional printmaking techniques obsolete in West German art academies, radically altered aspects of the united German cultural landscape to produce an independent art comics scene that broadened the aesthetics of the medium, changed public opinion on the legitimacy of comics, and remains influential today.

Hello, World

PoltroonHello from the Graduate Student Caucus of the CSS!

Welcome to our new blog. Wondering what the Graduate Student Caucus is? Well:

The Graduate Student Caucus is the collective name for all graduate student members of the Comics Studies Society. The purpose of the Caucus is to assess the needs and represent the interests of graduate students within the Comics Studies Society, and to provide fellowship, support, and advocacy for graduate students pursuing graduate work in comics studies. The Grad Caucus was formed at the same time as the CSS, with an initial membership of 17 graduate students who attended our first meeting at Ohio State last December, during the International Comic Arts Forum conference. Over the coming months and years, as the Society and the Grad Caucus grow, we plan to provide graduate students with opportunities for professionalization and training, connections to mentors, and places to discuss their professional and scholarly interests and concerns.

To that end, the Executive Board of the Grad Caucus would very much like to hear from any graduate students interested in the Society’s work. The Society is still working out a dues structure, but membership will be available in the coming months (the CSS is in the process of filing for incorporation and 501(c)(3) status, a prerequisite for most fundraising and dues collection). Early membership, particularly for students, is likely to cost relatively little compared to the dues for other scholarly societies. Grad student members of the CSS will be de facto members of the Grad Caucus with voting rights. But even before formally joining the society, we invite you to contact and follow us via Facebook, Twitter (@CSS_GSC), or this website, and to let us know what matters to you. We’d also like to share any information you have about upcoming conferences, panels, cons, lectures, and other events relating to comics.

In the coming weeks we’re going to post some writing from members of the Executive Board—all graduate students working in comics studies—explaining their research and ideas about the field. But we don’t want the blog to be limited to the Board, and would very much like to hear more about the work other graduate students are doing on comics. If you’d like to write something for the blog, please be in touch. We want the Grad Caucus to be a hub for information and opportunities for graduate students.


Ben Novotny Owen, President

Graduate Student Caucus Executive Board

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