Building the corpus for this project was not easy. In this episode I talk about the process and call attention to an interesting case that doesn’t make the list.
I'm working on a piece examining comic book geographies. Of course, my concern with comic book landscape as reflective of broader urban issues makes this both fun and hard. I'm using Brotherman Comics as the focal point because it sits at the intersection of broader concerns related race, comics, and narrative in the American experience.
I've run through a gauntlet of activities from the end of October until mid-November. The Society for American City and Regional Planning History's 17th National Conference on Planning History was October 26th-29th in Cleveland. I was co-chair of the planning committee for the conference. I presented on Hannibal Square's history but also was part of the Plenary (opening conference panel) that celebrated the 20th anniversary of Planning the Twentieth Century American City.
Like many graduate students, I was deeply affected by this book. Celebrating it as part of the conference seem obvious, but the plenary came together in an amazing way. I actually did not put myself on the plenary, Mary Sies asked me to participate. Thinking about how my understanding of the history of planning has played out, I very much used that knowledge in community engagement context. Projects like Rethinking the City, which is community conversation co-curate with professionals in planning, arts, and enterprise. We come to the idea of RTC with the intention of promoting dialogue to enhance the city. I ended up using a recent discussion about Parramore to talk about how questions of race and community continue to shape our collective perception of the planning process. Of course, much of my community work is about documenting black experience in generative digital projects that give spotlight hidden narrative. Key to my approach is to understand how historians can document, preserve, and present history across a variety of platform. A project with student researchers that contextualize a local process within the broader histographical argument can be helpful to foster understanding and support dialogue that empowers community members. The challenge is to move that activity from teaching to research category. While I saw the co-chairing process as a way to bring vital conversations about identity, place, technology, and politics to the center of the conference in a way that recognizes how actors beyond academia can benefit from engagement with scholars, it also reminded me that ultimately that work has to be modeled by people. I'm one of those people.
I presented on Marvel Comic's Black Panther as part of the 10th Comics and Popular Art Conference at Dragon-Con in Atlanta on September 1st. I've never attended CPAC, but like the Comics Arts Conference (CAC) at San Diego Comic-Con, the competition to get into the CPAC is extremely fierce. I'm lucky I teamed up with Phillip Lamarr Cunningham ( Quinnipiac University) Gabriel Cruz (Bowling Green University) for this panel on race and representation in Marvel Comics. I've written about the Black Panther before, but his analysis is specifically about the new series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Of course, I think there s synergy between Coates' essays for The Atlantic and his run on Black Panther. I think I managed to make some great points. Now, I need to find the time to move these ideas forward.