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Michael Harrison presents in Madrid

November 4, 2011

Professor and Spanish Department Head Michael Harrison will give presentation in Madrid on Spanish comics by gay and lesbian authors

Professor Michael Harrison will give a presentation titled “La Intimidad en la Confesión Gráfica: la Autobiografía Queer Español,” or “Private Life in Graphic Confessions: Queer Spanish Autobiography.”

Harrison will join professors from the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain next week at the First International Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels: “Sites of Visual and Textual Innovation,” sponsored by Franklin Institute.

To present at the conference, held  in Alcalá de Henares, Spain (near Madrid), Harrison wrote a proposal conveying the general idea of his essay topic and was selected.

“My paper looks at three comics from Spain that are either autobiographical or semi-autobiographical,” said Harrison, who will present on Nov. 12. “I do research on gay and lesbian authors, looking at how they use visual mediums to tell their stories as opposed to narrative forms of storytelling.”

A fan of comics from childhood, graduate school introduced Harrison to Spanish comics and sparked his interest in the topic.

“I did research on them in grad school,” Harrison said, “and I began to develop an interest in studying the texts and the cultural movements found in them. I dedicated my doctoral dissertation to Spanish comics written by gay and lesbian authors.”

Since then, Harrison has visited Spain numerous times and has attended conferences about comics and graphic novels, including the San Diego Comic Con this past summer.

The conference spans the entire week and features panels covering all aspects of comics and graphic novels including feminism, superheroes, social and cultural implications and avant-garde.

“It’ll be interesting to see what people are doing,” Harrison said. “It’s an opportunity to network with people across the world and make contacts, plus it’s just a fun experience. Each conference has its own personality defined by the theme and the people there.” 

Harrison often incorporates his interest in comics into his classes. Supplemental reading sometimes includes a comic about a subject pertaining to the class, such as a comic written about children growing up in orphanages after Spain’s Civil War.

“Comic studies have really grown in the last 10 years,” Harrison said. “It’s a new way of understanding culture and authors. The chance to do something relatively new and that there is a lot of is the exciting aspect about it for me.”

Comics also play a part in his Introduction to Liberal Arts classes where he teaches students how to utilize visual texts, and Harrison instructs the Reflections course “Great Power and Great Responsibility: Superheroes, Philosophy and Identity.”

“We take something interesting  and have students interact with something that goes with questions about ourselves, culture and the big questions of life,” Harrison said. “Visual learning has an interdisciplinary nature that goes with the idea of integrated studies.”

Cassie Burton
Staff Writer

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