The Humanities Institute hosts an annual lecture each spring to celebrate and interrogate the work of the humanities. A part of this event, the HI Alumni Award, will be given to a Penn State graduate who has made a significant impact in the humanities.
Wednesday, March 1 at 4:00 p.m. EST
Penn State University Park and Livestream
Qiana Whitted is a professor in the Departments of English Language and Literature and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina. She specializes in twentieth-century African American literature, cultural studies, and American comic books. She is the co-chair of the International Comic Arts Forum and the editor-in-chief of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society. Her book EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Society Protest won the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work. She is also the author of “A God of Justice?”: The Problem of Evil in Twentieth-Century Black Literature (2009) and co-editor of Comics and the U.S. South with Brannon Costello (2012).
Dr. Whitted’s lecture will take a closer look at debates over race and blackness in American comics produced during the first half of the twentieth century, as the comic book industry’s Golden Age converged with the era of Jim Crow. While racist caricature remained central to popular comics of the day, this discussion makes the case for a more complex narrative and aesthetic landscape, one expanded by the oppositional reading practices of African American youth and the experimental efforts of comics artists, writers, and editors to reach a wider audience. Her lecture will consider, too, the impact of race and difference in accusations about the harm that comic books caused younger consumers, as well as the more aspirational claims about the way that this popular medium could be used as a tool for social justice during the 1940s and 1950s.
This event will be followed by a reception for attendees.