Anonymous Donor Helps University of Oregon’s Comic & Cartoon Studies
By: Nicole D'Andria
I really want to hug the anonymous donor who invested $200,000 to help keep the Comics & Cartoon Studies program. This is a minor about comic strips and graphic novels that can you can get by going to the University of Oregon (UO). The program was launched about a year ago and is the first of its kind. Not only does this donation help keep the program alive, it also will allow students in the minor to go to comic-related art exhibitions located at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
An English professor at UO, Ben Saunders describes the program: “We’ve developed a wide-ranging curriculum, drawing on talented scholars from multiple disciplines — including art, art history, comparative literature, east Asian languages and literatures, English, ethnic studies and romance languages… Just next term we are offering an exciting course on the way comics can help children to express and process real-life challenges."
During the winter term at UO there are going to be several comic-related courses including ENG 313: “Fantasy, Comics, and the Real Lives of Boys and Girls,” JPN 250: “Manga Millenium” and ARTF: “Comics and Narrative”. Spring term courses incluse FR 339: “War in French Comics,” ENG 480: “Modern American Superheroes,” and ENG 280: “Intro To Comics Studies.”
Ben Saunders went on to explain the importance of studying comics in an academic setting: “It’s a sign of faith in the cultural value of the comics form itself… Comics constitute a remarkably successful mode of communication, with a history that is at least as old as print culture, and a global reach that includes most of the nations of the world. This private investment in our program is evidence that we are doing something important and worthwhile.”
UO is not the only place with comics on the academia. Several schools have integrated comics into their courses. A professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, Edward Shannon has several classes pertaining to comics including his popular Graphic Narrative course and his Comics and American Culture course. The Minnesota College of Art and Design has The Center for Cartoon Studies and some alumni from there have gone on to makes comics, including Joe Lambert and Sophie Goldstein who made the Best American Comics 2013.
I think it’s great comics are being introduced in colleges. I still find people who think comics are for children and can’t be considered “real” literature. These programs will hopefully make comic books a more respected medium.
A big thanks to whoever that anonymous donor was for keeping alive UO’s comic book program. You made me wish I could go there.