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Critical Directions in Comics Studies

Critical Directions in Comics Studies

Edited by Thomas Giddens
Hardcover : 9781496828996, 332 pages, 63 b&w illustrations, August 2020
Paperback : 9781496829009, 332 pages, 63 b&w illustrations, August 2020

An examination of the cutting-edge critical engagement in the field of modern comics studies


Contributions by Paul Fisher Davies, Lisa DeTora, Yasemin J. Erden, Adam Gearey, Thomas Giddens, Peter Goodrich, Maggie Gray, Matthew J. A. Green, Vladislav Maksimov, Timothy D. Peters, Christopher Pizzino, Nicola Streeten, and Lydia Wysocki

Recent decades have seen comics studies blossom, but within the ecosystems of this growth, dominant assumptions have taken root—assumptions around the particular methods used to approach the comics form, the ways we should read comics, how its “system” works, and the disciplinary relationships that surround this evolving area of study. But other perspectives have also begun to flourish. These approaches question the reliance on structural linguistics and the tools of English and cultural studies in the examination and understanding of comics.

In this edited collection, scholars from a variety of disciplines examine comics by addressing materiality and form as well as the wider economic and political contexts of comics’ creation and reception. Through this lens, influenced by poststructuralist theories, contributors explore and elaborate other possibilities for working with comics as a critical resource, consolidating the emergence of these alternative modes of engagement in a single text. This opens comics studies to a wider array of resources, perspectives, and modes of engagement.

Included in this volume are essays on a range of comics and illustrations as well as considerations of such popular comics as Deadpool, Daredevil, and V for Vendetta, and analyses of comics production, medical illustrations, and original comics. Some contributions even unfold in the form of comics panels.


"This volume successfully demonstrates that comics studies deserves, to paraphrase editor Giddens, consideration as a discipline in its own right."

- G. P. de Syon, CHOICE

"If there have been some rather weary debates about the intellectual maturation of comics studies over the past few years, then this book puts them to bed. Combining comics with the academic essay and close readings with discussions of history, theory, and form, the contributors stake out a new field called ‘critical comics studies’—crucial reading for all scholars interested in growing the discipline."

- Dominic Davies, author of Urban Comics: Infrastructure and the Global City in Contemporary Graphic Narratives and coeditor of Documenting Trauma in Comics: Traumatic Pasts, Embodied Histories, and Graphic Reportage

"Critical Directions in Comics Studies offers a set of excellent essays that make a significant contribution to the development and evolution of comics studies. The essays extend the ways in which comics are treated in terms of themes, theories, and modes of writing. The collection is of a high quality and is innovative in approach, style, and content. On a number of occasions, it really does show what is possible in comics studies and where the field might be going."

- Neal Curtis, author of Sovereignty and Superheroes