Reading between the Panels – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Reading between the Panels

In 2008, comic books are much more than the glossy flash bang that many think of when they hear the term. From comics to graphic novels to comic-inspired film and television series, the growing field of comics arts has evolved into an intricate crux of story writing, visual art and so much more.

This year, Hobart and William Smith will have their own expert to explore this complex and dynamic field. As a part of its 2008-2009 lecture series, titled “Animation,” the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men welcomes its 2008-2009 Pre-Doctoral Fellow Jillian Burcar to campus.

After arriving at HWS, Burcar explains, “There were a couple of things that drew me to the Fisher Center and to apply for the fellowship: one was the equality in the study of gender in the Fisher Center; it’s the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men, not just women. Also, the opportunity to create and teach my own course was a huge draw as well.”

“It’s exciting to be able to design my own course,” Burcar said. “It’s something that you’re not typically able to do as a graduate student.”

And Burcar has drawn up a course worth anticipating, titled “Zombies, Witches and Cyborgs: Animating Gender and Monstrosity,” “In the course, we’ll be looking at the root of various monsters and exploring them in their contemporary counterparts,” she explained. “I’m looking forward to taking all of the ideas and mediums, from comic books to graphic novels to film, and creating a dialogue with my students about all of it.”

“I hope that by the end of the course, my students are able to understand what they’ve learned about literature and comics arts in a creative as well as analytical way; I want them to be able to ‘read between the panels,’ so to speak, and not only for my class, but as a skill they’ll be able to carry with them,” Burcar said. “I don’t want to divorce the creative side of teaching in this course, whether it’s in assigning creative projects to my students or asking them to think uniquely and originally—I really want to animate their thinking in this area.”

Burcar is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature and Creative Writing (Fiction) at the University of Southern California (USC). She is on track to complete both the Visual Studies and Gender Studies Graduate Certificates at USC. Burcar earned her B.A. in English with a concentration in literature and an extended writing minor. Throughout her academic career, she has also been honored with the Mildred Fox Hanson Award in 2007 and 2008, the 2006 Virginia Middleton Summer Award, the 2003 and 2004 Maryland State Academic Excellence Award as well as many others. Burcar has also worked as an assistant lecturer and writing center consultant at USC. Recently, she has given several talks on comics-related topics across the country.