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Graphic Histories Understanding the Middle East and Africa Through Comics

Date(s) - 03/04/2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

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College of Arts & Sciences Graduate Division College of Liberal & Professional Studies


graphic histories


Join us on Thursday March 4th for a conversation about Graphic Histories with historians, teachers, and artists. Trevor Getz will talk about his graphic history Abina and the Important Men based on an 1876 court transcript of a West African woman named Abina who was wrongfully enslaved and took her enslavers to court. Maryanne Rhett will discuss Muslim women superheroes in comics. Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik will talk about her attempts to draw a primary source-based history of two French women exploring the Sahara. And Nick Sousanis will demonstrate how drawings and text can tell two different but complementary stories, making comic art a unique story-telling medium. There will be plenty of time to ask questions and discuss the use of graphic novels, comics, and other forms of narrative art in the classroom and beyond.

Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Middle East Center where she is working on her first book tentatively entitled The Maghreb Generation: Revolutionary Pan-Africanism in Postcolonial Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. She received a Master’s in history from the EHESS in Paris in June 2014, and a PhD in History at the University of Pennsylvania in May 2020. She has published in Monde(s)World Art, and the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Trevor Getz is a Professor in the Department of History at San Francisco State University. He is a historian of Africa and the world whose interests include history education, critical theory, and popular ways of thinking about the past. Most of his work revolves around issues surrounding gender and slavery in West Africa, although he has also published in the fields of world history, heritage studies in South Africa, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and modern imperialism and colonialism. He is currently the principle content manager for the World History Project,, series editor for the Oxford University Press’s Uncovering History series and collaborating on the history for the 21st Century Project.

Maryanne Rhett is an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and World History at Monmouth University, working on topics related to modern Middle Eastern and Islamic history at the intersections of popular culture, nationalism, and world history. Her teaching duties, too, reflect these interests. Some of her classes include Islamic history, Modern Middle Eastern history, Popular Culture and the Middle East, and the history of Militant Nationalism. Additionally, she teaches the Perspectives class: A Graphic World: World History and Sequential Art. Dr. Rhett is Secretary for the World History Association, as well as the WHA’s program committee chairman. She has arranged programs for the Mid-Atlantic World History Association, the World History Association, and the Monmouth University Biennial Conference on Race.

Nick Sousanis is an Associate Professor of Humanities and Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University. He is a scholar, art critic, and cartoonist; a co-founder of, is is also the first person at Columbia University to write a dissertation entirely in a comic book format. Sousanis believes that comics are powerful teaching tools and has developed ocurses on comics at Teachers College and Parsons. In additional to his classroom teaching, Sousanis’ artwork has been exhibited in such venues as Microsoft Research in Seattle. He publishes articles on teaching with comics in the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy and other venues. In addition to publishing, Sousanis has spoken at symposiums and conferences around the world. The noteworthiness of Sousanis’ contribution to the field of academics has been discussed in Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

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