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Najwa Al-Tabaa

Department of English
2015-2016 Library Enhancement Grant

Najwa Al-Tabaa, a PhD student in English, was awarded a Library Enhancement grant to further improve an already strong collection of comics in Library West by addressing a crucial absence: theoretical texts about comics. The acquisition of works such as The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture and Death, Disability and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond, as well as duplicate copies of crucial texts such as System of Comics by Thierry Groensteen and Graphic Women by Hilary Chute, offer a variety of theoretical perspectives on comics as cultural products. These works will be more accessible and provide fertile ground for faculty and graduate students to conduct more comprehensive research and teaching.

The University of Florida is one of the few schools in the United States to offer a degree track focused on Comics and Visual Rhetoric. Such a unique program of study is growing as scholars become more fascinated by products of popular culture and visual media. The UF journal, ImageText, explores comics and other visual media as an important form of cultural production. This journal and the program it supports indicates the growing interest in the field of rhetoric and visual representation.

However, the benefit of these acquisitions are even broader. Other growing fields like digital humanities, popular culture studies, film and media studies, as well as more well-established fields in the fine arts will reap the rewards of these acquisitions. Also, an annual conference on comics and graphic novels hosted at the University of Florida, which is free and open to the public, has encouraged collaborations beyond the university campus. Specifically, collaborations with the Sequential Artist Workshop and the Alachua County Libraries has expanded the appeal and reputation of the annual conference and the Comics and Visual Rhetoric Program. As a result, adding these materials to the current collection will allow a growing constituency of interdisciplinary scholars to more easily access important and relevant texts in their fields and improve the depth and reputation of public collaboration.