Racial Reckoning Comics logo
Logo design by Sara Rieger, MFA, UI Center for the Book


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.

We invite you to join us in these events taking place throughout the 2022–23 academic year.
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Upcoming Events

The following events are free and open to the public. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Erin Hackathorn in advance at 319-335-4034 or erin-hackathorn@uiowa.edu.

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Revising Injustice: Emphatically Anti-racist Comics promotional image

Revising Injustice: Emphatically Anti-racist Comics

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 7:00pm to 8:00pm
In the past decades, comics have proliferated, moving well beyond generic superhero tropes. In the form of serial installments, comic books, graphic memoirs and more, comics are being produced by a vast array of makers who are using them to delve into hard issues of race and ethnicity in specific times and places. They have become vehicles for social justice inquiry. Featuring Arturo Camacho, comics author, poet, and writer; and co-directors of the Racial Reckoning through Comics Mellon Sawyer...
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...