Racial Reckoning Comics logo

Our Sawyer Seminar draws from both critical perspectives and creative work in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to address how race and ethnicity have been represented historically. Through yearlong conversation and four exciting public symposia, we’ll consider how comics reflect and shape understanding of race and ethnicity in specific times and places. We understand “comics” broadly as comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, graphic memoirs, and other forms of visual narrative.  We welcome critical and creative reflections on troubling as well as affirming images, and on depictions by and of “others” as well as examples of personal or collective self-representation.  We are keenly aware of the ways race and ethnicity intersect with other categories of identity, including gender, sexuality, religion, age, abilities, and nationality, and welcome discussions that engage with rather than isolate those differences.  Addressing a public audience in a community steeped in the arts and committed to social justice, we expect to pose hard but necessary questions and welcome diverse and thoughtful responses.

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Past Events

The following events were free and open to the public.


How Do We Look?: Racial Reckoning through Comics promotional image

How Do We Look?: Racial Reckoning through Comics

Friday, September 9 10:00am to Saturday, September 10, 2022 5:00pm
Iowa City Public Library
This event is part of the 2022-23 Mellon Sawyer Seminar, "Racial Reckoning through Comics." In addition to a year-long intensive seminar with local participants, this Sawyer Seminar will feature a series of public presentations by prominent visiting creators and scholars, a film series, workshops, podcasts, and other public events, all of which will critically engage questions of racial representation in the popular international formats of comics. To begin our year-long Mellon Sawyer Seminar...
Revising Injustice: Emphatically Anti-racist Comics promotional image

Revising Injustice: Emphatically Anti-racist Comics

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 7:00pm to 8:00pm
This event has been canceled.
Days of Future Past: Histories and Futures of Racial Representation in Comics promotional image

Days of Future Past: Histories and Futures of Racial Representation in Comics

Friday, November 4 10:30am to Saturday, November 5, 2022 4:00pm
Iowa City Public Library
To continue our year-long Mellon Sawyer Seminar devoted to “Racial Reckoning Through Comics,” we turn to critical and creative approaches to representing historical as well as potential futures of racial trauma, testimony, possibility, and expanded narrative. How have comics neglected as well as addressed racialized histories or imagined racialized futures? In addition to presentations from our dynamic speakers, this event will include a guided archival tour of rare comics artifacts from the...