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. 

16 Sanborn House
HB 6032
African and African American Studies
Ph.D. Indiana University

Selected Publications

Reading Lessons in Seeing: Mirrors, Masks, and Mazes in the Autobiographical Graphic Novel (2017).

(Ed.) Where is All My Relation: The Poetics of Dave the Potter (2018)

(Ed) Graphic Subjects: Critical Essays on Autobiography and Graphic Novels (2011).

Fugitive Vision: Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative (2008).

“Words, Wares, Names: Dave the Potter as American Archive.” Anglia. Journal of English Philology / Zeitschrift für englische Philologie 138.3 (2020): 1-20.

"Misreading with the President: Re-reading the Covers of John Lewis's March." International Journal of Comic Art 20.1 (2018): 17-25.

“Will Eisner and the Making of A Contract with God.” In Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel, eds. Stephen Tabachnick, Jan Baetens, and Hugo Frey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 191-202.

“Why Call Them Graphic Novels If They’re True? Classifying Fun Home’s Mirrors.” Forthcoming in Approaches to Teaching Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, ed., Judith Gardiner. New York: MLA Press, 2017.

“Depicting African American Life in Graphics and Visual Cultures.” Forthcoming in A History of African American Autobiography, ed., Joycelyn Moody. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

“Picturing Black Authorship with and against Stowe’s Lens.” Forthcoming in African American Literature in Transition, Volume 4: 1850-1865, ed. Teresa Zackodnik. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

“The Saga of the Animal as Visual Metaphor for Mixed-Race Identity in Comics.” Forthcoming in Animal Comics: Multispecies Storyworlds in Graphic Narratives, ed., David Herman. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Anarchic Strains in the Comics of Ronald Wimberly and Keith Knight.” SubStance: Special Issue on Comics and Anarchy 46.2 (2017): 110-128.

Autobiographical Graphic ‘Novels’ of Childhood.” In Auto/Biography Studies “What’s Next” Special Issue 32.2 (2017).

“On the Nature of the Boundary in Comics Memoir: The Case of March.” In Comics an der Grenze: Sub/Versionen von Form und Inhalt, eds. Matthias Harbeck, Linda-Rabea Heyden, and Marie Schröer. Berlin: Bachmann, 2016. 31-40.

Signifying Marks and The ‘Not Counted’ Inscriptions of Dave the Potter.” Arizona Quarterly 72.4 (Winter 2016): 1-25.

Digression, Slavery, and Failing to Return in The Narrative of the Sufferings of Lewis Clarke.Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 39.4 (Fall 2016): 511-534.

"Horror Movies With Mom." Prairie Schooner (Fall 2016): 101-110.

The Cartoonal Slave.” In The Psychic Hold of Slavery: Legacies in American Culture, eds. Soyica Colbert, Robert Patterson, and Aida Hussen. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2016. 168-94.

"Dave the Potter and the Churn of Time." Michigan Quarterly Review (Winter 2014): 1-6.

Keeping Pictures, Keeping House: Harriet and Louisa Jacobs, Fanny Fern, and the Unverifiable History of Seeing the Mulatta.” ESQ 59.2 (2013): 263-290.

“Slave Memory Without Words in Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner.” Callaloo 36.2 (2013): 279-297.

“Not Just a Theme: Transnationalism and Form in Visual Narratives of US Slavery.” In Comics at the Crossroads: Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives, eds. Christina Meyer, Shane Denson, and Daniel Stein: New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. 15-32.

“Mulatta Obscura: Camera Tactics and Linda Brent.” In Pictures and Progress, eds. Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012. 109-31. 

“The Concatenate Poetics of Slavery and the Articulate Material of Dave the Potter.” African American Review 44.4 (2011): 607-18.

“Animal Subjects of the Graphic Novel.” College Literature 38.3 (2011): 129-149. 

"E.E. Cummings's Tom: A Ballet and Uncle Tom's Doll-Dance of Modernism." Journal of Modern Literature 34:2 (2011) 22-44.

“Terrors of the Mirror and the Mise en Abyme of Graphic Novel Autobiography,” College Literature 38:3 (2011) 21-44.

“‘Heartfelt Thanks to Punch for the Picture’: Frederick Douglass and the Transnational Jokework of Slave Caricature,” American Literature 82:1 (2010) 57-90.

“Is There an African American Graphic Novel?” In Approaches to Teaching the Graphic Novel, ed. Stephen Tabachnick. New York: Modern Languages Association Press, 2009. 69-75.

“Drawing on History in Recent African American Graphic Novels,” MELUS: The Journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 32:3 (2007) 175-200.

“International Contexts of the Negro Renaissance.” In Cambridge Companion to the Harlem Renaissance, ed. George Hutchinson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 41-54.

“The Gothic Aesthetics of Eminem” (co-authored with Jason Lindquist). Gothic Studies 9.1 (2007): 57-68.

“Coloring Whiteness and Blackvoice Minstrelsy: Representations of Race and Place in Static Shock, King of the Hill, and South Park.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 31.4 (2004): 167-75.

“Slave Cyborgs and the Black Infovirus: Ishmael Reed’s Cybernetic Aesthetics,” Modern Fiction Studies 49:2 (2003) 261-283.

Traveling Harlem’s Europe: Vagabondage from Slave Narratives to Gwendolyn Bennett’s ‘Wedding Day’ and Claude McKay’s Banjo.” Journal of Narrative Theory 32.1 (2002): 52-76.

Touring the Spectacle of Slavery at Magnolia Gardens Plantation.” Southern Quarterly 11.4 (2002): 126-40.

Picturing the Mother, Claiming Egypt: My Bondage and My Freedom as Auto(bio)ethnography.” African American Review 35.3 (2001): 391-408.

“The Dismantling Evolution of Heroes: Aquaman’s Amputation.” International Journal of Comic Art 1.2 (1999): 55-65.

+ View 30 more

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.

+ View 8 more