Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Disability and Representation in Autobiographical Comics

Please join the Transnational Comics Studies Workshop on Friday, January 13th from 2:30-4pm in the Hatcher Library Gallery (Room 100) for a presentation by Dr. Frederik Byrn Køhlert on Disability and Representation in Autobiographical Comics.


Disability and Representation in Autobiographical Comics


As studies of disability have long pointed out, to be figured as disabled is in key ways to be seen, and to always be the subject of others’ curiosity. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, influentially, has argued that in disability’s “economy of visual difference, those bodies deemed inferior become spectacles of otherness while the unmarked are sheltered in the neutral space of normalcy.” In the form of comics, this particular relationship with visual embodiment is placed front and center for the reader to engage with, through drawn imagery on the page. For autobiographical comics, especially, this relationship raises questions about how authors might employ various visual codes in order to elude the objectifying gaze commonly associated with looking at disability. Using as its case study Al Davison’s memoir about living with spina bifida The Spiral Cage, this talk examines the relationship between disability, representation, visuality, and autobiography in comics.

Bio: Frederik Byrn Køhlert is a Lecturer at the University of East Anglia. His research concerns issues of representation in literary and visual culture, with a special emphasis on comics and graphic novels. He is the author of several articles about trauma, gender, and representation in autobiographical comics, as well as a monograph on literary representations of Chicago. His most recent research focuses on political comics and cartoons, and he is currently working on projects concerning the intersection of comics and anarchism and the international reception of Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the shootings at the newspaper’s editorial office. His book Serial Selves: Identity and Representation in Autobiographical Comics is forthcoming from Rutgers University Press.


This event is generously cosponsored by the UM Disability Initiative and the Disability Studies Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop.

Please RSVP to enijdam@umich.edu. Refreshments will be provided.

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