modern language association

“Developments in Comics Pedagogy” (MLA 2016): Roundtable Panelists and Abstracts

I am proud to announce the line-up for the roundtable “Developments in Comics Pedagogy” that I am co-organizing at the 2016 meeting of the Modern Language Association in Austin, Texas. The session will take place on Friday, January 8, at 8:30 AM, and will feature a lively discussion among eight scholars and teachers on the innovative practices they use in the classroom to teach with comics in a variety of disciplines and courses. This roundtable is an opportunity for our panelists to share their creative approaches to teaching, with half of the allotted session time focused on discussion with audience members on their own innovative teaching practices with comics. We welcome attendees to engage with us during this discussion, as this session depends on significant audience participation.

Panelists’ bios are below, with abstracts summarizing their teaching practices.

 Thanks to our panelists for their contributions to the content and form of our roundtable. And thanks to Keith McCleary for outlining the goals for this roundtable and for co-organizing this project.



MLA 2016: “Developments in Comics Pedagogy” has been accepted!

A roundtable on teaching comics is coming to Austin, Texas!

Last week, I received confirmation that a roundtable I proposed with Keith McCleary (UC San Diego) has been accepted for the 2016 meeting of the Modern Language Association in Austin.

The roundtable “Developments in Comics Pedagogy” continues a discussion Keith and I have had since 2013, when we organized a similar roundtable with K. Wayne Yang at UC San Diego for the Northeast Modern Language Association in Boston. Based on that successful discussion we had with comics creators and teachers from Boston and around the United States, we started work on a second roundtable to host at the MLA. We’ve been working consistently on this project, soliciting proposals to hear how people are using comics in the classroom, and we want to thank the MLA for selecting our roundtable to host as a special session for the 2016 meeting.

Keith and I were pleased with so many strong submissions received; we received so many that we were limited by MLA rules to host at most six other panelists to this roundtable. Although we were unable to include all submissions on the roundtable, we think the participants for this 2016 meeting demonstrate a variety of pedagogical practices suited to numerous departments, disciplines, and course levels. The participants to this roundtable are comics creators, scholars, and teachers who specialize in studies of literature, language, and rhetoric and who come from departments of composition, English, German, Spanish, and even a newly developed program devoted to just comics and graphic novels. We included scholars at different stages in their careers, from MAs to associate professors, and Keith and I focused the selection on creators and scholars who can discuss comics from around the world.

The MLA 2016 meeting will be in Austin, Texas, January 7 to 10. Roundtable participants include:

Elizabeth Losh, University of California, San Diego
Susan E. Kirtley, Portland State University
Joe Sutliff Sanders, Kansas State University
Maria Elsy Cardona, Saint Louis University
Nick Sousanis, the University of Calgary
Elizabeth Nijdam, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

We appreciate the contributions that these panelists have made in developing our successful proposal to the MLA, and we are enjoying the conversations we have been having ahead of this roundtable. We look forward to January, and we will have updates as the MLA approaches.

Please follow #MLA16 on Twitter for additional updates for this and other sessions at the Austin meeting this January.

MLA CFP: Developments in Comics Pedagogy (200- to 350-word abstracts due March 1)

Keith McCleary at UC San Diego and I are pleased to report that our CFP for the Modern Language Association’s 2016 roundtable, “Developments in Comics Pedagogy,” is now online at Please visit this link for more information:

We welcome submissions (200- to 350-word abstracts) that identify innovative approaches to teaching all aspects of comics—broadly considered in terms of production, research, and appreciation—in upper- and lower-division courses in literature, language, and related studies.

This special session is an exciting opportunity to share your pedagogical practices with other scholars and teachers interested in comic books, graphic novels, and other visual narratives. The roundtable format also allows for an energetic discussion between participants and audience members, which will make this sessions stand out during the 2016 meeting of the MLA in Austin, Texas.

250- to 300-word abstracts are due by March 1 via email to both and

My Upcoming Presentation to MLA 2015: “Pursuing Two Passions: On Being a Graduate Student and Something Else”

I am excited to announce that I will be participating in a roundtable this January in Vancouver at the 130th meeting of the Modern Language Association.

“Pursuing Two Passions: On Being a Graduate Student and Something Else,” will be held on Thursday, January 8, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The title refers to the twin goals that each roundtable participant will discuss, as each of us has pursued our graduate research while dedicating ourselves to activism, family, and hobbies.

This will be my fifth presentation to the MLA, and my focus will be on the intersection of academic and fan appreciation of the texts and cultural studies that we research. In my submission, “Can My Dissertation Just Be On Fandom? Pursuing a PhD in American Literature While Watching Too Much Anime,” I discussed my involvement in fan communities centered around popular and nerd culture—anime, comics, cosplay—while completing a PhD in English literature with specialization in nineteenth-century United States literature and gender studies.