Cambridge University Launches Permanent Collection of Graphic Novels

Lucy Cavendish College at the University of Cambridge is launching a first-of-its-kind permanent collection of graphic novels, making the Lucy Cavendish College Library home to one of the world's most ambitious compilations of the works of artists and writers in this relatively new field. With multiple new academic journals on comics and graphic novels launched in recent years, it's a cutting-edge discipline, exactly the sort of subject for a library such as this. This initial core collection, which is intended to expand in coming years, supports interdisciplinary research by curating influential graphic novels from groundbreaking indie and LGBTQ+ authors, women and people of colour.

Cambridge University Launches Permanent Collection of Graphic Novels
Lucy Cavendish college CC BY 3.0

Joe Sutliff Sanders, PhD, a Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College and an American scholar of the genre, personally designed the initial list of texts for the collection, specifically seeking books available in English that have emerged as cornerstones of the field. Among the core collection are the March trilogy by John Lewis, Alison Bechtel's Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun Home, Robert Crumb's The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat, Phoebe Gloeckner's The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Yoshihiro Tatsumi's Abandon the Old in Tokyo, Rutu Modan's Exit Wounds, Daniel Clowes' Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron and Ghost World, Thi Bui's The Best We Could Do, Patti Laboucane-Benson's The Outside Circle, HG Oesterheld's The Eternaut, CeCe Bell's El Deafo and Art Spiegelman's The Complete Maus, to name just a few. Comics creator Bryan Talbot and his wife, Mary Talbot, a graphic novels author and scholar, have donated a number of their works to the collection.

"Lucy Cavendish College has an excellent library with its own long-held tradition of supporting writers through the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, famous for helping undiscovered female writers launch their literary careers," noted Dr. Sanders. "It is also the most diverse College at Cambridge, and there is considerable enthusiasm for new ideas."

Dr. Sanders, after teaching English at a junior high school in a small town in Japan and more than a decade teaching in literature departments at American universities, has been able to combine a passion for graphic novels and literature as a University Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and a Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College. As part of the international critical conversation, he has published books on classic girls' novels, the Belgian cartoonist Hergé, children's nonfiction and critical engagement, children's animation, and metafiction. His most recent book is Batman: The Animated Series, published by Wayne University Press. Current academic projects include research on autism and comics and the role that comics and graphic novels have played in shaping understandings of literacy. Donations to support the Lucy Cavendish College Library's Graphic Novels Collection can be made here.

Lucy Cavendish College is named in honour of Lucy Cavendish who campaigned for the reform of women's education and was founded in 1965 by female academics of the University who believed the university offered too few and too restricted opportunities for women as either students or academics. Since 2021, Lucy Cavendish admitted both women and men with the mission of the College expanded to open the Cambridge door to talented and exceptional students from under-represented and non-traditional backgrounds and was the first University of Cambridge college to admit more than 90% of undergraduates from state schools.


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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