In an attempt to combat the lack of research into comic books and graphic novels, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) will set up a new network of academics and artists named Comics and Graphic Novels: The Politics of Form. To foster discussion on the range of disciplines which comics and graphic novels concern, TORCH will alternate talks by researchers and comic creators themselves, starting in the Michaelmas Term.

One of the artists speaking in the network’s inaugural term, Karrie Franzman, told Cherwell  that “there are very few barriers for entry into comics- anyone can give it a go as long as they have pencil and paper. Comics are unique in their ability to combine words and pictures into ‘sequential art’. It is the art of drawing moments in time across physical space: comics are a very primal form of storytelling that go back to drawings on cave walls.”

Despite this longevity, comics have often been overlooked in academic research in favour of traditionally ‘higher’ art forms. However, research into the field has been on the rise recently as more journals provide opportunities for publication and increasing numbers of research networks allow cooperation between different disciplines.

MT20 Shoryu Advert

Dominic Davis, a member of the research group told The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities that one of the reasons for this lack of attention is because “by their very nature, they don’t fit easily into the disciplinary structures that we have today… the tools needed to read them are interdisciplinary. So it’s really important that our network creates a space for conversations to take place across the traditional disciplinary divides.”

“We’re trying to bring literary critics into dialogue with visual cultures scholars,” he added. “Given that the comics and graphic novels we’ll be discussing in the seminars cover such a range of topics, we welcome historians, geographers, and politics students into the conversation as well”

The seminars will take place every two weeks and are open to everyone. For those interested, more information can be found by joining the network’s mailing list by emailing and following further updates on the network’s blog. In advance of her upcoming talk, examples of Karrie Franzman´s work may be found here.