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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Events: Seminar Series on Graphic Narratives, 2023-24.

The Faculties of Education, MMLL and FAMES are running a seminar series dedicated to graphic narratives in 2023-2024. 


There are two final events this term.


Friday 31 May, Deena Mohammed in conversation


15:30-17:00, London time. Alison Richard Building, Room S1. Zoom access will be provided to attendees who request it ahead of time. 


Deena Mohamed is an Egyptian comics artist, writer and designer. Her graphic novel trilogy Shubeik Lubeik is an urban fantasy about a world where wishes are for sale. She originally self-published the first part at the Cairo Comix Festival, where it was awarded Best Graphic Novel and the Grand Prize of the Cairo Comix Festival (2017). After that, the English translation for all three parts of Shubeik Lubeik was acquired by Pantheon Books for North America and Granta for the UK, for publication as a single collected volume in Jan 2023.  The Arabic trilogy was published as three separate graphic novels in Egypt by Dar El Mahrousa.


For further details of Deena’s work:


Thursday 23 May 2024, 14:00-17:00. Lecture theatre, Paula Browne House, Murray Edwards College. 


Comics workshop, with presentations by: 


Armelle Blin-Rolland (Bangor): Bande dessinée, ecoliteracy, environmental justice 


Barbara Spadaro (Liverpool): Comics and graphic novels in the (languages) curriculum: memory, mobility and translation 


Alexandra Lloyd (Oxford): Encountering difficult histories in German-language comics.


This workshop will be held in person only. It will include an opportunity to reflect on the comics seminar convened this year by AMES, Education and MMLL, and the possibility of sustaining a comics community at the University of Cambridge. To allow booking of refreshments, please contact Charles Forsdick ( by Friday 17 May 2024 to indicate if you plan to attend.




Armelle Blin-Rolland (Bangor): Bande dessinée, ecoliteracy, environmental justice 


This paper develops the concept of ‘ecological storylines’ to reflect on the role that comics have to play in cultural conversations about and in the face of environmental crises, as well as the potential of the medium in what I call a ‘greener’ Modern Languages, with at its core the interactions of languages and nature-cultures, in ways deeply entangled with decolonising and decentring the field.


This paper will draw on case studies from the francophone world in bandes dessinées that address a range of environmental issues in Brittany, the Mediterranean, and the DRC, to discuss the possibilities offered by the medium to challenge anthropocentrism and sketch an ecopolitics centred on justice both for the human and the nonhuman.


This paper will report on local impacts and benefits of this research for education by sharing findings from my project ‘Cwricwlwm Ieithoedd Modern Gwyrddach i Gymru/A Greener Modern Languages Curriculum for Wales’, which explores the links between environmental awareness, creativity and international language learning through bande dessinée. Year 5, 6, 8 and 10 pupils from across North Wales took part in research-informed creative workshops with comics artist-in-residence Anne Benoliel Defreville, during which they created their own eco-bandes dessinées and a multilingual ‘natural mural’. Bande dessinée emerged as a powerful medium for fostering ecoliteracy through a creative and critical understanding of sustainability rooted in resistance, justice – and hope.


Dr Armelle Blin-Rolland is a Lecturer in French and Francophone Studies at Bangor University, Wales, UK. Her research specialisms include French and Francophone environmental humanities; bande dessinée and text/image studies; and adaptation and intermediality. She has published widely on these topics, including in European Comic ArtEcozon@Modern Languages Open and Modern and Contemporary France. Her first monograph, Adapted Voices, was published by Legenda in 2015. Her current project investigates the relationship between narrative, space and the environment in contemporary France, with a focus on sites of violence and resistance and from the perspectives of multispecies, decolonial, feminist, queer and disabled ecologies.


Barbara Spadaro (Liverpool): Comics and graphic novels in the (languages) curriculum: memory, mobility and translation 


Over the last years, comics production and pedagogy have been examining ways in which comics can be used in various learning contexts. In the Languages curriculum, comics have been introduced in many areas and with many different purposes, from language acquisition to the development of intercultural or multimodal literacy. This presentation focuses on ‘Comics and Graphic Novels: Memory and Transcultural Mobility’, a research-led module designed in transnational perspective at the University of Liverpool. Through a specific focus on memory, history and translation, the module develops a language-sensitive approach to reading and studying comics and comics cultures, beyond the Anglosphere. Students are introduced to comics and graphic novels as multimodal and increasingly multilingual texts developing complex and imaginative communication strategies. The syllabus features both classic and contemporary authors, exploring the relationship between comics and narratives of History; comics and cultural and racial stereotypes; and comics, multilingualism and translation.


Dr Barbara Spadaro is a cultural historian of Italian migration and colonialism in Africa and the Mediterranean, based in the Department of Languages, Cultures and Film at the University of Liverpool. She was PDRA for the AHRC Theme ‘Translating Cultures’ and for the large grant Transnationalizing Modern Languages (TML). Her work on comics, memory and translation appears in the book series "Transnational Modern Languages" with Liverpool University Press, in the article The transcultural comics of Takoua Ben Mohamed: memory and translation a fumetti (“Modern Italy”, 2020;25(2) doi:10.1017/mit.2019.74) and in the Special Issue of the “Journal of Comics and Graphic Novels” (14, 2023, IV), Transnational Italian Comics: Memory, Migration, Transformation, co-edited with Dr Daniele Comberiati (University of Montpellier).


Alexandra Lloyd (Oxford): Encountering difficult histories in German-language comics.


Graphic literature has made a significant contribution in the past two decades to the cultural memory of the Nazi past in the German-speaking lands. Such material includes graphic adaptations of literary texts, as well as original works that engage a complex interweaving of imaginative approaches to the past with documentation and ephemera from the period. They take the form of life writing, oral testimony, and narratives based on eye-witness accounts, depicting a diverse range of experiences including those the regime nurtured and protected, and those it persecuted. The commemorative spaces of the Third Reich continue to be hotly contested, and such works contribute directly to ongoing debates about cultural representation.


This paper examines the ways in which recent German-language graphic narratives depict the history and legacy of the Third Reich and considers ways in which such works can be used within Modern Languages as part of a curriculum of language acquisition, translation, and cultural understanding.


Dr Alexandra Lloyd is Fellow by Special Election in German at St Edmund Hall, and Lecturer in German at Magdalen College and University College, University of Oxford. Her research interests include cultural memories of war and dictatorship, representations of children and childhood, and graphic literature. She is the author of Childhood, Memory, and the Nation: Young Lives under Nazism in Contemporary German Culture (Legenda, 2020) and Defying Hitler: The White Rose Pamphlets (Bodleian Library Publishing, 2022).


For further details, please contact the seminar organisers: Charles Forsdick (, Yaron Peleg ( and Joe Sutliff Sanders (


Previous seminars:

Friday March 8 2024

Laurence Grove (University of Glasgow), “The canon is dead: long live the comic canon.” 

Have the chronological lists of Great Books upon which the university syllabus used to depend all but disappeared? If so when, how and why did this happen? Drawing upon the specific example of Comics Studies, Grove addresses these questions whilst suggesting the notion of Personal Journey Criticism.

Laurence Grove is Professor of French and Text/Image Studies and Director of the Stirling Maxwell Centre for the Study of Text/Image Cultures at the University of Glasgow.

Wednesday March 13 2024

Yirmi Pinkus (Shenkar College of Art and Design), "The Noah Books project: from modern Hebrew classics to contemporary comics for children.” 

Noah Books Publishers, founded about a decade ago by the acclaimed Israeli illustrators Rutu Modan and Yirmi Pinkus, is an experimental project that focuses on locating narrative texts from the inventory of modern Hebrew children literature and turning them into comic books for young readers. The books are created in a sort of artistic lab, in close collaboration with young illustrators, graduates of design academies. The encounter between the classics and the comics genre explores new interpretations by using contemporary visual storytelling and have been translated into English and Chinese.

Yirmi Pinkus is a novelist and illustrator. His picture book Mr. Fibber, based on stories by acclaimed Israeli poet Lea Goldberg, was awarded the Israel Museum illustration award. Pinkus is a professor of illustration at the Shenkar College of Art and Design, Tel Aviv.

Thursday May 2 2024

TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History: Book presentation and discussion with Nic Watts and Sakina Karimjee 

Nic Watts and Sakina Karimjee discuss their recent graphic novel TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History (Verso, 2023). The end of slavery started in what was then San Domingo. In 1791, the enslaved people of the most prized French sugar plantation colony revolted against their masters. For over twelve years, against a backdrop of the French Revolution, they fought an epic Black liberation struggle for control of the island. Theirs was the first and only successful slave revolution. It was the creation of Haiti as a nation, the first independent Black republic outside of Africa, and an international inspiration to the persecuted and enslaved. This is the impassioned and beautifully drawn story of the Haitian Revolution and its incredible leader: Toussaint Louverture. The text of this graphic novel is a play by C. L. R. James that opened in London in 1936 with Paul Robeson in the title role. For the first time, Black actors appeared on the British stage in a work by a black playwright. The script had been lost for almost seventy years when a draft copy was discovered. Now this extraordinary drama has been reimagined in graphic form. 

Sakina Karimjee has a background in theatre; set and costume design, production and draughting, working for companies such as Royal Opera House, National Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Nottingham Playhouse and Theatre by the Lake. More recently, she has turned her attention to adapting graphic novels, using her visual skills and understanding of storytelling to communicate with a reader rather than audience.  

Nic Watts is an illustrator, creating artwork for numerous fiction and non-fiction projects for both children and adults. His work ranges from illustrating children's books such as Stanley Bones and the Great Dinosaur Mystery (Little Tiger Press & Grund), to working with UK based charities including NSPCC and FPA and for newspapers such as The Guardian