Past Workshops



  • James Danky (Journalism and Mass Communication)
  • Jessica Gross (Comparative Literature)
  • Adam L. Kern (East Asian Languages and Literature)
  • Vanessa Lauber (English)
  • Jon McKenzie (English)
  • Leah Misemer (English)
  • Tejumola Olaniyan (African Languages & Literature)

ContactJessica Gross

Comics have long been an important part of popular culture in many areas of the world, and over the last few decades they have become increasingly important in academia as well. The A. W. Mellon Comics Workshop takes a transdisciplinary approach to the study of comics and its aim is to yield rich, new understandings of comics. Our meetings center around shared primary and theoretical readings about comics (posted on our website) and around talks given by comics artists, political cartoonists, industry experts, and researchers and scholars who study comics. We welcome all interested members of the UW-Madison and Madison communities to take part in these conversations.

Following are central questions for the workshop:

  • What are comics? Does it make any difference how they are defined, and by whom?
  • How do comics work as a hybrid form (words and images) differently from other narrative forms? How does the medium (e.g. digital vs. print) affect the production and reception of comics as well as access?
  • How do comics work within, apart from, and against established literary and artistic canons and academic disciplines? In what ways are these relationships shifting in our present moment?
  • How can the pedagogical potential of comics (like video games) be more fully realized?
  • How do comics not only treat but also affect the collective understanding of grave issues such as war, genocide, death, memory, and history?
  • What is the relationship between individualism and collaboration in comics by single and collaborative creators?
  • How do graphic and narrative conventions of comics differ among cultures and genres (for example, Japanese manga, Franco-Belge bande dessinée, and American superhero comics)?
  • How can creating our own comics by hand or by any number of on-line programs augment our intellectual understanding of these issues?


Contact Jessica Gross for information about events and to access password protected documents.

You may also learn more about our events on our Facebook page.




"Comics Studies at UW-Madison: A Panel Discussion"

James Danky, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Jessica Gross, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies
Adam Kern, East Asian Languages and Literature
Jon McKenzie, DesignLab and English
Leah Misemer, English Literature

Friday, April 18, 2014 @ 2:00-4:00pm
College Library Media Studios, 2252A & 2252B

Interested in the possibility of launching a Comics Studies program at UW-Madison?  If so, what do you think such a program should include? Make your voice heard! Join the conversation with those on campus whose teaching and research involves comic books, graphic novels, manga, political cartoons, comic strips, and so on.



Mike Konopacki

"Organizing Comics! Cartooning Truth to Power"

Friday, March 28, 2014 @ 2:00-4:00pm
College Library Media Studios, 2252A & 2252B



Hillary Chute

Lecture: "Words, Images, and War: Joe Sacco and the Work of Documentary Journalism"
Keynote Lecture for the MadLit 2014 Conference on "Texts and Violence"

Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 7:00 pm
Fluno Center Auditorium, 601 University Avenue

This lecture focuses on Joe Sacco's work to examine how graphic narrative is a prominent form for reporting on violence, investigating two related questions. First, what work does the visual articulation of violence do in texts about war? Second, why has drawing re-emerged as a form for reporting on war--after the age of the camera and of film--and what does this tell us about the exigencies and ethics of representation and contemporary literary and journalistic practice.

Workshop "Comics in Academia: Reading, Writing, Teaching"

Friday, February 21, 2014 @ 2:00-4:00pm
College Library Media Studios, 2252A & 2252B



Carol Tilley, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

"Children, Comics, and Print Culture"

Friday, November 15, 2013 @ 1:00-3:00pm
College Library Media Studios, 2252A & 2252B



Lynda Barry, WID Discover Fellow

"Drawing Words and Speaking Pictures: The Mysterious Thing We Call Comics"

Friday, October 25, 2013 @ 1:00-3:00pm
College Library Media Studios, 2252A & 2252B

Participation is by registration only. To register, e-mail Leah Misemer.


Dennis Kitchen, Jim Danky, and Bruce Ayres

"When Comic Books Went Underground: Cartoonists during America's '60s/'70s Counter-Culture"

Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 1:00-3:00pm
College Library Media Studio, room 2252