Author Qiana Whitted to Give Annual Shannon-Clark Lecture at W&L Whitted’s lecture on Oct. 19, titled “All-New, All-Negro: Orrin C. Evans and the Golden Age of Comics,” is free and open to the public.
Qiana Whitted, professor of English and African American studies at the University of South Carolina, will give the annual Shannon-Clark Lecture in English at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in the Leyburn Library.
Her talk, “All-New, All-Negro: Orrin C. Evans and the Golden Age of Comics,” is free and open to the public.
Whitted specializes in 20th-century African-American literature and culture, American comics and graphic novels, and southern literature. She is the author or editor of four books, most recently “EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest” (2019), which won the Eisner Award, and “Desegregating Comics: Debating Blackness in the Golden Age of American Comics” (2023). She also wrote the introductory essay for Marvel’s new Penguin Classics collection of “Black Panther” comics and is the editor of “Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.”
“Qiana is one of the biggest names in comics scholarship today, especially about the role of race in the 20th-century medium,” said Chris Gavaler, associate professor of English at W&L. “She’s also the first comics scholar the university’s Department of English has ever invited to campus, and we are thrilled to have her visit.”
In her lecture, Whitted will examine the single issue of Orrin C. Evans’s 1947 comic book, “All-Negro Comics,” as a way of illustrating the stakes of Black popular representation and oppositional reading during the industry’s golden age. She will explore what the series’ characters can teach us about the stories African-American creators wanted to tell and the pitfalls they tried to avoid in meeting the needs of their audiences. The lecture will also consider the rare issue’s engagement with Black politics and culture, gender dynamics and respectability politics, and post-World War II publishing and marketing efforts.
“I am excited to welcome Professor Whitted to W&L to discuss her research and engage with our community,” said University Provost Lena Hill. “Her work on comics and race — and focus on African-American literature and Southern literature more broadly — make her scholarship particularly timely. Professor Whitted and I attended graduate school together, and I look forward to the ways her personal warmth and intellectual generosity will be received by all who attend her presentation.”
As part of her visit to W&L, Whitted will also lead a retreat with English majors and faculty titled “Comics, Race, and Relatability: Blackness as a Blank Slate” on Oct. 20. The workshop invites faculty and students to consider how conceptual claims about the “universality” of comic art intersect with Black representation in comics. Discussion will be guided by questions of social identity, relatability and embodiment in visual narrative, using two short comics by Ebony Flowers and Richie Pope as case studies. Interested faculty and students can RSVP to the retreat by contacting Charity Corman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During her time on campus, Whitted will also take part in the DeLaney Dialogues series on Oct. 19 at noon. The series is hosted by the DeLaney Center, an interdisciplinary academic forum that promotes teaching and research on race and Southern identity.
The Shannon-Clark Lectures in English, established by a gift from a Washington and Lee alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous, honor the memories of Edgar Finley Shannon, chairman of Washington and Lee’s Department of English from 1914 until he died in 1938, and Harriet Mabel Fishburn Clark, a grandmother of the donor and a woman vitally interested in liberal arts education.