Michael A. Chaney

Academic Appointments
  • Edward Hyde Cox Professor of English and American Literature

  • Vice Chair, African and African American Studies Program

I specialize in nineteenth-century American literature and African American literature, mixed race representation, visual culture studies, autobiography, and comics and graphic novels. My latest book, Reading Lessons in Seeing: Mirrors, Masks, and Mazes in the Autobiographical Graphic Novel, examines "graphic novels" to illustrate how comics--both in form and function--are pedagogical, instructing readers on how they ought to be read. My academic writing tends to merge a healthy skepticism for the obvious with a passion for the unexpected and the theoretical, a perspective honed perhaps by my original calling as a visual artist. Recent essays appear or are forthcoming in such journals as SubStanceAmerican Literature, African American Review, Callaloo, Arizona Quarterly, Biography, College Literature, and ESQ. My creative writing tends to blur genres and modes, a perspective no doubt inspired by my own mixed race heritage. Recent creative credits include Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, The Los Angeles Review, Fourth Genre, and New Ohio Review. I just finished an edited collection (for Oxford UP) about David Drake or Dave the Potter, an enslaved ceramicist and author from antebellum South Carolina, and I continue to work on a collection of flash fiction called The Cartoonal and You, which fuses the form of the cartoon with lyric surrealism to explore perplexities of American race relations. 


Sanborn, Room 016
HB 6032


English and Creative Writing


Ph.D. Indiana University

Selected Publications

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Speaking Engagements

  • Inaugural Webinar ‘Tributo’ Address: “The Literary and Interpretive Horizons of Graphic Narrative”  St. Joseph’s College, India. September 15, 2020.

  • Keynote Address: “Reading March Covers with and Against the President.” Spaced Out Comics Conference at Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Italy. October 26, 2017.

  • Keynote Address: “The Covers of John Lewis’s March Trilogy and the Paracaption.” University of Siegen. Germany. Summer School, “Transnational Graphic Narratives.” July 31-August 5 2017.

  • Keynote Address: “Where? Reflections on Richard McGuire’s Here and the Spatial Ontology of Comics.” International Comic Arts Forum. Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia SC. April 14, 2016.

  • Address, “Counting on Theory to Account for Dave the Potter’s 'Not Counted' Jar.” McKissick Museum, Columbia SC. April 12, 2016.

  • Plenary Speaker, “Graphic Novels Offer Reading Lessons in Seeing.” McComb Conference. Miami University, Oxford OH. March 12, 2016.

  • Plenary Speaker and Seminar Discussant, “History as Autobiography in Contemporary African American Comics and Graphic Narrative.” Hermanns Lecture Series. University of Texas, Arlington. October 23, 2015.

  • Plenary Speaker, “Race, the Human, and History in the Graphic Novel.” Honors College of Emerson College. Boston, MA. September 28, 2015.

  • Plenary Speaker, “Simultaneous History: Re-Seeing John Lewis’s Graphic Memoir March After Ferguson and Baltimore.” Futures of American Studies Institute. Dartmouth College. June 24, 2015.

  • Plenary Speaker, “What Can Krazy Kat Tell Us About Seriality and Comics Poetics?” Mass Media and Seriality in 1920s-1930s US Popular Visual Culture. Hannover, Germany. April 24, 2015.

  • Plenary Speaker, "Middle Passage, Community, Mise-en-abyme: Or, What Happens When Kyle Baker Changes the Tail of a Dead Slave’s Speech Balloon in Nat Turner into an Arrow?” Futures of American Studies Institute. Dartmouth College. June 19, 2014.

  • Plenary Speaker, “The Material Pedagogy of Dave the Potter—19th Century Slave, Poet, and Artisan.” Campus Lectures in Education, Siena College, March 21, 2013.

  • Keynote Address: “Picture Games in Story Frames: The Play Spaces of Graphic Novels.” Graduate Student Conference at the University of Montreal, Canada. March 16, 2012.

  • Plenary Speaker, “Flipped Scripts and Magnifying Glasses: Barthes’ Image Music Text and the Comics” Panel.” Interdisciplinary Methodology Conference: The Case of Comics Studies. University of Bern, Switzerland. 15 October 2011.

  • Seeing the Social, Or How to Read a Graphic Novel.” TEdX Conference at Dartmouth College, March 6, 2011.

  • Plenary Speaker, “Pictorial Aurality in Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner.” Life Writing and the Graphic Novel: an International Conference. Ruhr University of Paderborn, Germany. July 2, 2010.