Comics@SDSU was awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The independent federal agency awarded the grant of nearly $150,000 to “advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations.” The grant will be a boost for comics scholarship and education.
Comics@SDSU, a faculty-led collaborative at San Diego State University, has the stated goal to “cultivate innovative teaching and research with comics.” The collaborative is an interdisciplinary group of twenty-five faculty members. For several years, Comics@SDSU has worked to increase the use of comics in the school curriculum and form a comic studies certificate program. In addition to being the home base of Comics@SDSU, SDSU also houses a comics collection of over 100,000 pieces including, comic books, secondary research, and archival collections. From the collection description:
The collection emphasizes alternative and independent titles, underground comix, drawn books and Modern Age comics, as well as materials that document the history of comic book culture, fandom and the creative process behind comic book production. Noteworthy holdings include a large collection of ephemera and memorabilia from fan conventions, comics that focus on all aspects of diversity, self-published and mini-comics, the J. Gordon Melton Vampire Collection, and vintage comics and comic strips
Comics@SDSU will use the grant to develop and run a national forum to create a network of public libraries, academic libraries, and scholars for expanding comics research and education with a focus on social justice. From the grant proposal,
Comics have found an increasingly significant role in K-12 and higher education and have also proven to be a locus for students organizing around intellectual freedom. Yet, there is an unmet need to coordinate and promote the use of comics in teaching at all levels, and to support development and use of research collections in libraries.
Looking ahead, there will be four meetings over fourteen months starting in March of next year. The first meeting will consist of San Diego-based institutions.
Earlier this year, Pamela Jackson and Beth Pollard, leaders of the collective, led a group meeting among California State University professors to assess the use of comics in the higher education curriculum. It became apparent that supporting comic study beyond SDSU was a desired need to be fulfilled. Pollard remarked, “It provided a proof of concept that this could work nationally.”
Comics@SDSU is creating an incredible opportunity to strengthen national connections among librarians, educators, and scholars. There is also the potential to create a foundation that will change the role of comics in education. We can’t wait to hear updates as the forums get underway.