Introduction: Francesca Lyn, Member at Large

10363347_10106570690510361_4712203260538544823_nHello! My name is Francesca Lyn and I am currently a doctoral candidate in Media, Art & Text at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I am originally from North Lauderdale, Florida and I received both my BFA and my MA from the University of Florida, where I started off as a painter and printmaker. My master’s thesis was on music mashups and online culture.

After graduating with my Master’s, I took a year off from school and worked in an office doing public relations. I always planned to return to my studies eventually, but wanted to take some time off to really think about my future and research programs of study.

While working at my office job, I decided to take classes at the Sequential Arts Workshop (SAW), a comics arts school in Florida that was also conveniently located two blocks away from my apartment. While I was always a comics reader, taking these classes sparked a deeper interest in comics and I have since taken several classes at SAW, including a week-long workshop with autobiographical cartoonist Gabrielle Bell.

I wrote reviews for the comic and pop culture news website Comics Bulletin. I read critical theory on comics for fun, and I revisited Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. My collection of comics continued to grow, with friends introducing me to incredible examples of small press works. Comics became more and more important. Eventually I transitioned from studying gendered digital representations to studying gendered representations in comics.

My dissertation “Graphic Intimacies: Identity, Humor, and Trauma in Autobiographical Comics by Women of Color” examines five texts by women of color written in the new millennium. I am interested in how autobiographical comics offer a new framework for exploring transgenerational trauma through the complex and intersecting themes of race and gender.

My teaching is also focused on comics, and I have created and taught an interdisciplinary course called “Gender, Race and Comics”. In this course students learn how to do comics research with special emphasis on utilizing VCU’s Comic Arts Collection. Students explore how the formal qualities of comics are utilized in order to tell compelling memoirs as well as fictional narratives. Particular emphasis is given to graphic narratives created by women of color.

In my free time I enjoy performing both standup and improv comedy. I have taken several classes at Coalition Theater and enjoy looking very silly.

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