Reading notes: drawing en abyme

I have begun working on a new project called “Comics panels and file cabinets: Inside Alison Bechdel’s queer archives.” In this project, I will explore Bechdel’s queer archives—that is, both her comics in the archives and her comics as an archive of queer life. I am interested in two kinds of containers—panels in comics and file cabinets in archives—and what and how they document. I will visit Bechdel’s archives at the Sophie Smith Collection of Women’s History at Smith College to do research on Bechdel’s life and work, but also to get a feeling for her archive and her practices of documenting. Before heading to Smith this summer, I have been re-reading Bechdel’s work—not exactly systematically, as I started with Fun Home and then read The Secret of Superhuman Strength. Right now, I am devouring The Essential Dykes to Watch Out ForAre You My Mother?awaits, promising more pleasure in re-reading. My earlier work on Bechdel’s comics has led to my interest in her archive and what it enacts as an archive and in her comics.[1]

But for this reading notes post, I want to take a moment to look at two paired panels in Bechdel’s Secret of Superhuman Strength that capture her creative process and demonstrates a concept and practice I call “drawing en abyme.” I first presented on drawing en abyme at the Comics and Medicine Conference in Dundee, Scotland in 2016, and I further developed the concept in a keynote address for the Curating Health: Graphic Medicine and Visual Representations of Illness, organized by the Nordic Network for Gender, Body and Health in Stockholm in 2018. Some of that address was posted on The Polyphony blog as “Graphic Medicine en abyme: drawing sketching-as-therapy in Ellen Forney’s Marbles.” I have also used this concept to discuss mirrors and mirroring in graphic Frankenstein narratives. I describe drawing en abyme as a method-image for thinking about how graphic narratives stage identity as a process of becoming through drawing. I have discussed at length the mirror as a prominent prop and visual trope in many graphic narratives, including in Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?

[Screen grab of detail from p. 172 of Alison Bechdel, The Secret of Superhuman Strength (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021).]

In Secret of Superhuman Strength, we see this staging with a different prop—a digital camera—used as part of a drawing process that Bechdel explains in a caption “now involved many layers of preparatory sketches” (172; figure 1). The two panels depicting Bechdel’s process are at the bottom of a 6-panel page in which Bechdel juxtaposes images of an intense exercise program that she adopts to match her intense work schedule. In the second tier of two square panels, we see Bechdel on an exercise bike struggling to catch her breath and on her back on the floor trying to slow her heart rate during a tachycardia episode. Bechdel then expresses frustration that she couldn’t “increase her drawing speed by sheer force of will,” explaining that her “process had grown progressively more laborious over the years…” (172). In the left panel, we see a digital camera on a tripod in the foreground with the camera’s viewfinder framing a photo of Bechdel in the center of the panel pouring whiskey from a bottle into a glass. This doubling is then repeated with a difference in the right panel in which the viewer is in the position of the cartoonist, who holds the camera in her left hand with an enlarged close up of the image the hands, bottle, and glass as the right hand sketches the image in a panel-in-process on the page. The left panel includes a caption in the bottom right that reads, “first digital camera” and the right panel has a caption in the middle above the camera that says, “my comic strip.” This is Bechdel at her meta-best! We have a drawing of a staging of a digital photo and then a drawing of a drawing of the digital photo which stages for us Bechdel’s process of drawing her comic strip.

[1] I have written about Bechdel’s practice of graphic analysis, which I define as a “long and difficult therapeutic and creative process of doing and undoing the self in words and images” in her graphic narrative Are You My Mother? Lisa Diedrich, “Graphic analysis: Transitional phenomena in Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?,” Configurations 22 (Fall 2014), 183-203. I have also taken up Bechdel’s work as an example of documenting health activism in comics in, Lisa Diedrich, “Drawing Health Activism: Illness Politics and Practices of Care in Graphic AIDS Narratives,” in Lester Friedman and Theresa Jones, eds. Handbook of Health and Media (New York and London: Routledge, 2022), 346-359.

#IllnessPolitics and the Mobilization of Vulnerability

On March 17, 2023, I gave a virtual talk as part of the Conceptualizing Vulnerability series organized by Pramod K. Nayar, who is the UNESCO Chair in Vulnerability Studies at the University of Hyderabad. This presentation is part of a book I am working on called #IllnessPolitics. I first introduce the larger project before presenting material from one of the chapters. #IllnessPolitics explores illness and disability in action on social media, analyzing several popular hashtags as examples of how illness figures, conceptually and strategically, in recent U.S. politics. I demonstrate how illness politics is informed by, intersects with, and sometimes stands in for, sexual, racial, and class politics. This project is connected to a growing body of work that explores forms of health activism and disability and illness politics as central, not peripheral, to both mainstream and radical politics, as well as work on the dynamic intersection of media and health and health activist practices. Illness- and disability-oriented hashtags serve as portals into how and why illness and disability are sites of political struggle. 

In the larger project, I first take up two hashtags—#SickHillary and #TrumpIsNotWell—used in the U.S. presidential election campaigns of 2016 and 2020, respectively, to demonstrate how illness politics has operated in recent mainstream electoral politics where illness functions as a metaphor for a candidate’s supposed unfitness for office. I then explore illness and disability activist hashtags—#ADAPTandRESIST, #CripTheVote, and #TimeForUnrest—as examples of counter-portals into other forms of illness-thought-activism in time. In these various hashtags of illness and disability in action in the present moment the violence and exclusions of recent policies are revealed. Yet, these examples also reveal a multiplicity of practices—of vulnerability and heroism, confrontation and compromise, exhaustion and endurance—in an ongoing struggle for care, access, and full citizenship and personhood.

In this presentation, I focus on the multiple temporalities of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) through an analysis of CFS experiences and events as documented in Jennifer Brea’s film Unrest (2017) and through the hashtags #TimeForUnrest and #MillionsMissing. Brea’s film shows illness and illness politics as operating biopychosocially across different spaces and temporalities, including on social media, which becomes a site of a kind of embodied assembly where people gather while remaining at home and in their own beds. In her book on precarity and public assembly, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Judith Butler explores the “question of whether the destitute are outside of politics and power or are in fact living out a political agency and resistance that expose the policing of boundaries of the sphere of appearance itself” (78).  I will also explore this question of how those deemed outside the limits of the political—in this case the sick and bedbound—nonetheless, as Butler posits, “break into the sphere of appearance as from the outside, as its outside, confounding the distinction between inside and outside” (78). Brea’s film and related hashtags on social media create the conditions of possibility of this breakthrough into the sphere of appearance as a mobilization of vulnerability, despite, or perhaps because, such action exhausts—literally, in the case of CFS—any one individual’s capacity to appear.

Reading notes: Cultivating attentiveness

As part of a faculty fellow program for innovative teaching at Stony Brook University, I will be embarking on a two-year project that I am calling “Multi-modal Pedagogies in Action.” Part of my plan for the fellowship period is to blog regularly on pedagogy in theory and practice. The fellowship doesn’t start until fall 2023, but I thought I’d point to what is to come with a Reading Notes blog on my recent reading of Jacques Rancière’s Ignorant Schoolmaster and re-reading of Lynda Barry’s Syllabus. As in my other posts of Reading Notes, I offer thoughts-in-process rather than a fully formed and definitive argument. Let me know what you think.

[Photo of Lynda Barry’s book Syllabus on the left and Jacques Rancière’s book The Ignorant Schoolmaster on the right on an orange cloth background.]

As I read Rancière’s “lessons in intellectual emancipation,” I was struck by how his discussion of the unconventional teaching methods of the 19th century French schoolteacher Joseph Jacotot echoed some of the ways one might engage in a multi-modal approach to teaching and learning. Jacotot was renowned for successfully teaching Flemish students even though he did not speak Flemish and they did not speak French. According to Rancière’s account, Jacotot sought to overturn “the logic of the explicative system” (6), which established a hierarchy of knowledge based on the presumed superiority of intellect of the teacher and the inferiority of the student. Jacotot believed instead that all people (yes, all people) are equally intelligent, and that the recognition of this fact is the basis for creating the conditions of possibility for an intellectual emancipation for both teachers and students alike. Rancière describes how Jacotot taught his students French by simply giving them a book in French and telling them to “take it and read it” (22). Jacotot begins with the letters in the first word of the book, calling upon the students to “Tell me the form of each letter as you would describe the form of an object or of an unknown place” (23). Following Jacotot’s method, what is needed is an “absolute attention for seeing and seeing again, saying and repeating” (23). This concept and practice of cultivating attentiveness that Rancière describes as a key aspect of Jacotot’s method of universal teaching resonates with what I try to put into action in my classroom, particularly through annotation exercises. It was helpful for me in thinking about how to do annotation exercises with students to recognize that annotation is about seeing and seeing again, rather than about explication as a correct interpretation or accurate translation of a text or image. 

            Rancière emphasizes that Jacotot’s method calls on students to “see everything” for themselves, “compare and compare, and always respond to a three-part question: what do you see? what do you think about it? What do you make of it? And so on, to infinity” (23). Cultivating attentiveness is a practice to infinity and, as Rancière clarifies, “that infinity is no longer the master’s secret; it is the student’s journey” (23). Although much of Rancière’s discussion of Jacotot’s universal teaching method deals with reading and text-based learning, for me what Rancière describes sounds like Lynda Barry’s practice-based, multi-modal methods that she offers in her classes at the University of Wisconsin and shares in her graphic teaching notebook Syllabus. That book has a sub-title of sorts, “Notes from an Accidental Professor,” and this typically self-deprecating self-designation suggests that Barry also offers a critique of mastery and would likely be sympathetic to the claim that “there is no hierarchy of intellectual capacity” (27), as Rancière articulates in The Ignorant Schoolmaster.

            As I re-read Barry’s Syllabus right after reading Rancière, it was immediately apparent that for Barry, as for Jacotot and Rancière, the key to teaching and learning is cultivating a practice of attentiveness rather than knowingness. Barry emphasizes the importance of what she calls “creative concentration” (2), and Syllabus offers numerous drawing and writing exercises for “being present and seeing what’s there” (4), in the words of Barry’s teacher Marilyn Frasca. In notes taken in Frasca’s class on April 5, 1977, Barry recalls anew this instruction: 


How do you stop saying ‘nothing happened.’

One way: pay attention, be quiet, and 

see what’s there.

Not agree with, understand, like, 


Just seeing is neither explication nor a form of mastery; it is an invitation to cultivate attentiveness. For Barry, drawing as an embodied practice helps cultivate attentiveness; she elucidates how drawing is “a side effect of something else: a certain state of mind that comes about when we gaze with open attention” (22).

            Barry has long been fascinated by the phenomenon that while drawing is an almost universal activity for children, as children become adults, most stop drawing. Many adults will even go so far as to say, “I can’t draw.” Barry’s pedagogy works to bring drawing back into people’s lives. As she explains, “I have a theory I’m trying to work out about bringing drawing back into someone’s life—which is different than teaching them to draw. I’m interested in using the drawing that is already there—is still there in spite of everything” (38). For me, this is a lesson in intellectual emancipation through drawing. What is cultivated is not knowledge of how to draw better, but an attentiveness through the practice of drawing—a certain state of mind that we can all access.

[Photo of an open grid-lined notebook with hand-written notes from Lynda Barry’s Syllabus with drawings intermingled. The drawings from top to bottom left to right are: spiral, octopus, child drawing, bank robber, car, bird, bat, a person’s head with glasses and short hair, a full-bodied Ivan Brunetti-esque person also with glasses and short hair.]

reading notes: ableism (a brief History of the emergence of a term)

I was curious about the emergence of the term ableism. When did it come into common parlance as a critique of the attitudes and structures that value and normalize able-bodiedness and able-mindedness and that devalue and stigmatize disability and disabled people? As I suspected, the term is recent. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the first known use of the word ableism, defined as “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities,” was 1981. A Google books Ngram search pointed me to a book published that year: Yvonne Duffy’s …all things are possible, published by A.J. Garvin and Associates in Ann Arbor, Michigan. From the Ngram graph, we can see a slow growth in use of the term from 1981 to about 1996, followed by a brief plateau until about 2001 when the use of the term rises significantly, continuing up to the present moment.

[Google Books Ngram graph for the word ableism, showing the first appearance in a book in 1981.]

One other interesting detail from the definition in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary: in “Recent Examples on the Web” of uses of the word, five out of the eight examples are from articles published in the immediate aftermath of the John Fetterman-Mehmet Oz debate on October 25, 2022, in which Fetterman used closed-captioning to accommodate an auditory processing disorder following a stroke. I mention this because it shows that Fetterman’s Senate campaign following his stroke led to widespread conversations about what ableism is and how it structures social interactions. Disability activists and scholars had long used the term, but in 2022, forty years after the term first emerged, the use of ableism would become prominent in mainstream media coverage of Fetterman’s successful run for U.S. Senate.

[Recent example sentences from Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of ableism, showing five sentences from news articles published between October 25 and October 27, 2022, all covering the debate between Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz.]

Let’s look back to how ableism appears in 1981. I admit I had never come across Duffy’s …all things are possible before. It is a fascinating book about disability and sexuality that Duffy explains in the introduction she “conceived in the summer of 1976, near the end of a long but stormy love relationship with a fellow writer who remarked casually one night as he was going out to see another woman, ‘You think and talk so much about your sexuality as a disabled woman you ought to write about it’” (11). Duffy doesn’t use the term ableism herself and it is only used once in the text in a quotation from one of her interviewees. A term Duffy does use extensively is differently abled, which she says she first came across in literature sponsored by the “We Want the Music Collective” at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. She enthusiastically endorses differently abled as a “wonderful phrase to describe those of us who, because of physical limitations, have learned so many other ways of carrying out everyday activities!” (12). 

[Cover of a library copy of Yvonne Duffy’s …all things are possible from 1981. A photo of a woman’s naked torso framed by a wheelchair wheel with spokes radiating out from the center.]

According to Duffy, differently abled was coined by the We Want the Music Collective and the Tucson, Arizona lesbian community. Since its coinage, of course, there have been many critiques from disabled writers and thinkers of the use of differently abled instead of disabled. In Waist-high in the World, Nancy Mairs humorously sums up some problems with the term, dismissing it as “mealy-mouthed.” Mairs prefers the more accurate term cripple to identify her own experience with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis, even as she knows others might not agree with her preference. That Duffy uses the term differently abled throughout …all things are possible instead of disabled person or person with a disability, which is the terminology used by the people she interviews, is cringe-inducing reading now. Nonetheless, Duffy’s book offers insight into how disabled people are often perceived as asexual and denied complex personhood and she provides numerous stories of disabled sex and sexuality to counteract this form of ableism.

The word ableism appears in Duffy’s text in a chapter called “Womyn Loving Womyn (Lesbianism).” Duffy first discusses with her interviewees their attitudes toward and experiences of lesbian sex and sexuality. She then tells her reader that she revised her questionnaire to answer the specific questions “How do women treat other women? Are women more understanding of each other’s specific physical condition in sexual situations?” and distributed the new questionnaire at the Disabled Lesbian Conference held in August 1981, following the Michigan Women’s Music Festival (157). Two women responded—Jane, a 33-year-old art therapist from New York, and Ruth, a 35-year-old psychologist. As is the case throughout …all things are possible, Duffy also introduces Jane and Ruth by briefly describing their disabilities. Jane “has amyotonia congenita and uses a motorized wheelchair” (157) and Ruth has epilepsy, and Duffy adds that their experiences in the lesbian community have differed partly because Jane’s disability is visible, and thus often more stigmatizing than Ruth’s. 

It is Ruth who uses the term ableism in a response to a question about her “level of comfort with the lesbian community in comparison with the straight,” as Duffy puts it (160). Ruth explains that she felt “more accepted by the lesbian community probably because that is where I am most comfortable. I have gained considerable respect for my therapeutic expertise among the mental health community but am not usually very comfortable in social settings with many of these people” (160). Duffy continues to quote Ruth about how she “perceived that she is seen by other lesbians ‘as a lesbian with a strong liking for women’s culture, with an interest in our herstory, present and future possibilities….The degree of ableism I encounter is about the same in both communities’” (160). The ellipsis is in the original and Duffy doesn’t engage with Ruth’s use of the term ableism nor with her point about its presence in both lesbian and straight communities. Thus, ableism first appears as an analytic concept within a lesbian feminist community, even as it nonetheless operates as a structuring structure of disabled experience in that community as in straight communities. This is the force of ableism. Identifying it by name is only the beginning of the process of counteracting it.

reading notes: illness politics as a practice of love

I am trying to write these reading notes quickly, almost as I read. Unlike on twitter, this format/platform feels less like notation and more composed like a blog post or review. One strategy is to post before I finish something, as I did on twitter and then update the post with additional thoughts. Reading notes as process notes, perhaps? Basically, I’m still figuring this out.

Right now, I am reading Steven W. Thrasher’s The Viral Underclass, which I would describe as an articulation of illness politics as a practice of love. I use “articulation” in Stuart Hall’s double sense of the term: as both a form of expression where the form of expressing matters and as linkages between certain elements and conditions that are possible but not inevitable or essential.

[Photo of Steven W. Thrasher’s book The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide. In the middle of the cover is a red COVID-like virus (with spikes). At the center of the virus is a black human head in profile that appears to create ripples outwards to the edge of the virus.]

Thrasher’s chapter “From Athens to Appalachia” links AIDS activism and care practices in Greece and West Virginia through stories of how a viral underclass is produced and maintained in these places, such that the underclass is a space as much as an individual or group of people. But Thrasher also shows, importantly, how people living in these conditions respond to their situation in creative and caring ways. Thrasher makes connections between people and communities and forms of activism—for example, from harm reduction programs responding to an HIV outbreak in Athens after the Greek economic crash to programs in West Virginia responding to outbreaks of HIV, Hepatitis C, and overdose that were modeled on the Athens programs. I’d add another historical connection, which is that Greek immigrants in the early 20th century emigrated to West Virginia to work in the mines and steel mills of the Ohio River valley, including members of my Greek grandmother’s family who ended up in Wheeling. The anti-immigrant, anti-trans, and HIV stigma that led to the violent death of Greek AIDS activist and Zak Kostopoulos (aka drag queen: Zackie Oh) shows how such stigmatizing violence must forget this other history of Greeks on the move searching for a better life amid economic hardship and political conflict.

Thrasher warns us in the introduction that many of the protagonists of his stories of the viral underclass will die, telling us to “consider grabbing some tissues” (18). The portraits here are deeply moving. Thrasher has a way of capturing community activists in action by providing touching details about their character and work along with careful analysis of the structural violence they are up against. I needed those tissues when I read Thrasher’s chapter on Lorena Borjas, a trans activist from Jackson Heights, Queens who was HIV positive and worked for decades providing resources for Black and Brown and trans sex workers in Queens to help them practice safer sex, beat addiction, avoid arrest, post bail, and get free from oppressive situations. Thrasher shows how Borjas’s activist philosophy and practice was to show up for others and convince others to join her in showing up for others. Showing up for and with others sounds simple but is of course incredibly difficult to sustain. Yet, Borjas sustained this practice of love right up until she became sick with COVID in March 2020. Thrasher tells the heartbreaking story of her illness and death, noting “There was a sad irony at the end of her life. Lorena always showed up with people.” “But at the end of it all,” he continues, “except perhaps for the respiratory technician and nurses on duty as she drew her final breaths, Lorena Borjas was physically alone. [Her partner] Chaparro, [friend] Cecilia [Gentili], [fellow trans activists] Chase [Strangio], [Lynly] Egyes, all the thousands of people she’d given condoms and syringes and food to on Roosevelt Avenue—none of them could be with her to hold her hand in the final transitional moments of her earthly journey” (149). Many tributes followed Borjas’s untimely death at just 59, including from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who lauded Borjas as the “mother of the trans Latinx community in Queens” (149). Thrasher’s work also situates Borjas’s activism in Queens, while linking it beyond Queens in time and space in and through his book about The Viral Underclass. This is what I call #IllnessPolitics—a way of countering what Thrasher calls “viral vulnerability” through transhistorical and transnational connections between multimodal forms of activism and movements.

[Photo of Lorena Borjas smiling and seated with her hands folded on her lap. She is wearing a beautiful bright red shawl and colorful kimono-like dress with a yellow and white flower in her hair. Photograph by Guillermina Hernandez / Courtesy TransLatin@ Coalition.]

Reading notes: learning to listen

[Front and back cover of Amina Cain’s A Horse at Night: On Writing. Art on the cover: a painting by Augustus Leopold Egg, The Traveling Companion, 1862. Cain describes “an almost perfect symmetry between” the two girls “who look like sisters” in the painting. “One girl sleeps while the other reads,” Cain writes. “Each is resting in her own way. All of us need this kind of rest” (89).]

For me, Twitter was a space for connecting with others through reading. One of my favorite things about Twitter was that I encountered the thought and writing of countless others—both well-known and less so. I also used it as a space to post notes as I read. Sometimes I would start a thread about a book I was reading and post quotes or thoughts periodically while I was reading. In other words, I would pause in my reading to post a quote or comment on Twitter, as though I was jotting down a thought in the margins of the book or in a notebook. Notation was for me an affordance of the platform. Recently, for example, I read the revised and updated edition of Saidiya Hartman’s brilliant, groundbreaking Scenes of Subjection, which took me several days to read. I updated a Twitter thread while I read, which wasn’t a review of the book, but a practice of notation—a practice the book also enacted by including notations Hartman created in collaboration with Cameron Rowland. 

[The new edition of SCENES OF SUBJECTION includes notations that Hartman created with Cameron Rowland, including this one titled “Black Antagonism” “in homage to the sweetgrass basket makers of Edisto Island & what they are owed.” Image description: A black ink spiral bisected by a horizontal line on a gray white woven basket background. The title BLACK ANTAGONISM is at the top & the word PRACTICE is on the left at the opening of the spiral & the words GATHERING (above the line) & CRIMINALITY (below) are on the right. Notations from the text are contained in the spiral. At the center of the spiral/basket is the word Flight.]

Yet, like others, I have found Twitter to be a much less satisfying platform for this kind of engagement in recent months because of Elon Musk’s takeover and the changes he has made to the algorithm, verification process, content moderation, and accessibility. Not to mention his own promotion of right-wing conspiracy theories and fascist and transphobic content on the site. Many people I enjoyed following and engaging with have left the site and moved to other platforms like Mastodon. As of now, I don’t plan to leave, and I still haven’t set up a Mastodon account. Nonetheless, I have been trying to create a new way to post reading notes. Although it doesn’t feel as spontaneous as Twitter did, I thought I might play with using this blog for reading notes (it could also be that this is my first and last reading notes post!).

[Image description: Two books stand next to each other on a white shelf. On the left, Amina Cain’s A Horse at Night and on the right, much thicker and larger, Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness. ]

What have I been reading? Right now, I have two books on the go—one long, one short. That’s not quite right because I started and finished the short book—Amina Cain’s A Horse at Night: On Writing—in a single day—yesterday. Thus, I read a whole other book while reading the long one—Ruth Ozeki’s Book of Form and Emptiness. Starting and finishing a book while reading another book is not unusual; reading happens in multiple temporalities and spaces. Some books are gobbled up and others are savored slowly and still others are struggled with or put aside and returned to (or sometimes never returned to). Ozeki’s book is a book about the agency of things, including books, and there are books within the book that is The Book of Form and Emptiness. So, it feels right that I read a small book about reading and writing while reading a big book about a book becoming a book. In a section on how and when plants appear in fiction, Cain discusses Amanda Ackerman’s The Book of Feral Flora as not simply about plants but as including pieces “written by plants” (112). Cain writes that “the flowers in the book call out to other flowers, repeating their names, making contact, one to the other. Ackerman calls out to them too” (112). This echoes Ozeki’s story of a book being told from the perspective of the book itself as an object with agency to think and feel. Both texts—one thin and one thick—present practices of writing and reading as a kind of attentiveness to objects—that is, writing and reading as forms of listening. As Benny, the protagonist in Book of Form and Emptiness says, “Things speak all the time, but if your ears aren’t attuned, you have to learn to listen” (3). Reading notes are one way of learning to listen.

Teaching illness & the politics of care

Fall 2022

This coming semester I’ll be teaching two undergraduate classes on illness and the politics of care: Documenting Mental Illness and Life/Death | Health/Justice. The syllabuses for these classes are below. In both classes, I work with comics and graphic narratives (and many other genres and forms). Check out my piece on Comics as Pedagogy: On Studying Illness in a Pandemic. Despite a push to return to “normal,” we’re still in a pandemic, which impacts our experiences in the classroom. I am committed to working together with students to create a flexible and inclusive space for learning that takes seriously the themes of these classes: the need to think creatively about our practices of healing and spaces of care. This includes the space in which we study mental health and illness in a pandemic.