Janine Utell (2021-2022)

Janine Utell

Janine Utell is Homer C. Nearing, Jr. Distinguished Professor in English at Widener University, where she chairs the Department of English and Creative Writing and is an affiliated faculty member in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies.  She is the author of James Joyce and the Revolt of Love, Engagements with Narrative, and Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing, and the editor of The Comics of Alison Bechdel and Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English.  She is working on a monograph about 20th-century women’s writing and rage, a biography of Howard Cruse, and an edited volume on the early years of LGBTQI+ comics. She also edits a forum for Modernism/modernity PrintPlus on feminist and queer modernist studies.

Lan Dong (2017-2022)


Lan Dong is Associate Professor of English and Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Endowed Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois Springfield where she teaches Asian American Literature, Comics and Graphic Narratives, and Children’s and Young Adult Literature. She is the author Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States and Reading Amy Tan, and the editor of Transnationalism and the Asian American Heroine, Teaching Comics and Graphic Narratives and Asian American Culture: From Anime to Tiger Moms. Currently she is working on a project on comics and Asian American experience.

Aaron Kashtan (2016-2021)


Aaron Kashtan is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition in the Department of English at Miami University (OH). He completed a Ph.D. in Comics and Visual Rhetoric at the University of Florida under the supervision of Donald Ault and Terry Harpold, and was previously a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Aaron’s research focuses on the material, digital, and multimodal rhetoric of comics. His first  His first book, Between Panel and Screen: Comics, the Future of the Book, and the Book of the Future, currently under review, examines what comics can tell us about the effect of digital media on the material experience of reading. His second book project, a revision of his dissertation, will examine comics as a site of nostalgia for handwriting in contemporary American culture. Aaron has published articles on comics in such journals as Digital Humanities Quarterly and the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, and was formerly the moderator of the international Comix-Scholars discussion list.

Susan Kirtley (2015-2020)

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Susan Kirtley is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of Rhetoric and Composition at Portland State University, where she is developing a Comics Studies program. Her research interests include visual rhetoric and graphic narratives, and she has published pieces on comics for the popular press and academic journals. Her book, Lynda Barry: Girlhood through the Looking Glass, was the 2013 Eisner winner for Best Educational/Academic work; she is currently working on a new book on comics.

Chris Pizzino (2014-2019)


Chris Pizzino is Associate Professor of English at the University of Georgia, where he teaches comics, science fiction, theory of the novel and contemporary US literature, among other things.  His work on comics has been published in ELN and ImageTexT, and more recently in PMLA.  His work on science fiction has appeared in Extrapolation.  His book Arresting Development: Comics at the Boundaries of Literature appeared in 2016 from the University of Texas Press.

Nhora Lucía Serrano (2013-2018)

Nhora Lucía Serrano

Nhora Lucía Serrano is a Visiting Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, and has taught courses on comics, Art and Literature, Medieval Studies, Latin America, and literary theory at California State University, Long Beach and Tufts University. Recently, she was awarded the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and Washington 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition Scholarship for her Visual Studies project, “Commemorating the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair: The Columbian Exposition and the First Souvenir Postal Cards.” She is the co-editor, with Janelle A. Schwartz, of Curious Collectors, Collected Curiosities: An Interdisciplinary Study (2011), her article “LACMA’s Gambit: In Wonderland’s Surrealist Women” was recently published in X-Tra Contemporary Art Quarterly (Winter 2012), and she is a contributor on Los Bros. Hernandez, Latino Graphic Novels, and Latino Graffiti to the Latino Studies Oxford Bibliographies online.

Nhora has presented papers on comics at various international conferences including ICAF, in particular on the work of Hergé, Tardi, Ware, and Satrapi and the relationship between illuminated manuscripts and bande dessinée. She is a contributor to the forthcoming Comics through Time encyclopedia (edited by M. Keith Booker, Greenwood Press), and is now finishing her book The Myth and Modernism of Remedies Varo: Arachne Entwined. In this book, Nhora examines Spanish-born Mexican artist Remedios Varo (1908-1963) as a central figure in late modern art through the lens of feminist visual studies.

Martha Kuhlman (2012-2017)

Martha Kuhlman

Martha Kuhlman is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at Bryant University, where she teaches courses on the graphic novel, critical theory, and Central European literature. In the field of comics, she has published articles in the Journal of Popular Culture, the European Journal of Comic Art, and the International Journal of Comic Art, and contributed to the MLA volume Teaching the Graphic Novel. Recently she coedited a volume with Dave Ball titled The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing is a Way of Thinking, published by the University Press of Mississippi. She is particularly interested in comics and graphic narratives in an international context, literary adaptation, and graphic narrative representations of history.

Martha’s term of office with the Discussion Group is from 2012 to MLA 2017.

Hillary Chute (2010-2015)

Hillary L. Chute is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Chicago and author of Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics (Columbia UP, 2010).

Previously a Junior Fellow in literature in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, her work has appeared in PMLAModern Fiction StudiesTwentieth-Century Literature, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others. In 2006 she co-edited the special issue of Modern Fiction Studies on Graphic Narrative.

Hillary is associate editor of Art Spiegelman’s MetaMaus (2011), and has written about comics and culture for venues including the Village Voice and the Believer. Her latest book, Disaster Drawn, will be published by Harvard University Press in the fall of 2015.

Hillary authored and circulated the petition that led to the founding of the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives. Her term of office with the Group is from 2010 to MLA 2015.

Rusty Witek (2011-2014)

Rusty Witek

Joseph “Rusty” Witek is holder of the Kathleen Johnson Chair in Humanities and Director of the Humanities Program at Stetson University. His teaching specialties include comics, popular culture, narrative fiction, literary theory, and the humanities. He has been teaching courses on comics since 1989.

Winner of the 1997 Hand Award for Scholarly Activity, Rusty is the author of Comic Books as History: The Narrative Art of Jack Jackson, Art Spiegelman, and Harvey Pekar (UP of Mississippi, 1989) and editor of Art Spiegelman: Conversations (2007), and has contributed essays to ImageTexT, International Journal of Comic Art, Journal of Popular Culture, The Comics Journal, and other journals and collections. He has served on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals devoted to comics.

Rusty’s term of office with the Discussion Group is from 2011 to MLA 2014.

Charles Hatfield (2010-2014)

Charles Hatfield of California State University, Northridge, has published widely in comics studies, most notably in his books Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby (UP of Mississippi, 2012) and Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature (UP of Mississippi, 2005). His academic articles have appeared in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, The Lion and the Unicorn, ImageTexT, English Language Notes, Transatlantica, and SubStance; in addition, he has contributed chapters to Teaching the Graphic Novel (MLA, 2009), Keywords for Children’s Literature (NYU Press, 2011) and the Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature (2011). As a teacher, Charles specializes in comics, children’s culture, and popular culture studies. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to The Comics Journal, The Jack Kirby Collector, and other magazines, and has also blogged at Thought Balloonists (2008-2010) and The Panelists (2011).

Charles served on the executive committee of the International Comic Arts Forum from 1997 to 2009. In addition, he serves on the editorial boards of ImageTexT, the International Journal of Comic Art, the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, and several academic book series. He is currently co-writing a book about cartoonist Eddie Campbell with longtime collaborator Craig Fischer, and co-editing, with Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester, The Superhero Reader.

Charles served as the Chair of the Discussion Group for MLA 2013, and just recently finished his duties to the Executive Committee.

Derek Parker Royal (2010-2012)

Derek Parker Royal, founder and executive editor of Philip Roth Studies, has published essays on American literature and graphic narrative in diverse scholarly journals. His books include Philip Roth: New Perspectives on an American Author (Praeger, 2005) and the soon-to-be-published Unfinalized Moments: Essays in the Development of Contemporary Jewish American Fiction (Purdue UP, 2011).

Derek has served, or is currently serving, as guest editor of several special journal issues devoted to comics, including one for MELUS on multi-ethnic graphic narrative, for Shofar on recent Jewish comics and graphic novels, for ImageTexT (along with Christopher Gonzalez) on the Hernandez Brothers, for Forum for World Literature Studies (along with S.C. Gooch and Juan Meneses) on politics and comics, and for the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (along with Peter Coogan and Mel Gibson) on superheroes and gender. Also, he serves on the editorial boards of ImageTexT, the International Journal of Comic Art, and the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. Currently he is working on two books, The Hernandez Brothers: Conversations (UP of Mississippi, 2011) and Coloring America: Multi-Ethnic Engagements with American Comics.

Derek served as the Chair of the Discussion Group for MLA 2012, and just recently finished his duties to the Executive Committee.

Jonathan Gray (2010-2011)

Jonathan W. Gray, assistant professor of English at John Jay College—CUNY, received BAs in English and Philosophy from Howard University and his Ph.D. in American Literature from CUNY Graduate School and University Center. His scholarship has been published by Oxford University Press and Rutgers University Press, and his article “Commence the Great Work: the Historical Archive and Unspeakable Violence in Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner” is  featured in the forthcoming Excavating the Past: Visualizing Slavery in Contemporary American Popular Culture (McFarland). His first book, Innocence by Association: Civil Rights and the White Literary Imagination, is under contract at the University of Mississippi Press.

Jonathan teaches the only comics course offered at CUNY’s twenty-four campuses, and has been featured in the Washington Post and on NPR holding forth about graphic novels, their evolution, and their increasing centrality within popular culture.

Though Jonathan’s official tenure with the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives ended in 2011, he too has generously continued to help with 2012-2013 programming as the Discussion Group finds its sea legs. In fact he chaired 2012’s panel on “The Material History of Spider-Man.” Thanks, Jonathan!

Isaac Cates (2010-2012)

Isaac Cates teaches at the University of Vermont. He has published essays (or has essays forthcoming) on Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware’s diagrams, James Kochalka and diary comics, the collaborations of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, and superhero comics. He has also presented conference papers on Will Eisner, Jack Jackson, Rick Geary, Alan Moore, and George Herriman.

He also writes on Modernist and contemporary poetry, including essays on Louise Glück and Robinson Jeffers. His poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Southern Poetry Review, Southwest Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Unsplendid, and other publications.He was the co-editor of the recent volume Daniel Clowes: Conversations, and he is at work on a monograph about the graphic novel for Yale University Press.

He has been teaching literature courses on the graphic novel since the fall of 2001.

Isaac served as Chair of the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives for MLA 2011. Though his official tenure with the Group ended in 2012, he has generously continued to lend advice and support. Thanks, Isaac!