Capshaw to deliver 2024 Gryphon Lecture

Katharine Capshaw

Katharine Capshaw, professor of English and associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Connecticut, will deliver the 2024 Gryphon Lecture on March 21. Sponsored annually by the Center for Children's Books (CCB), the lecture features a leading scholar in the field of youth and literature, media, and culture.

In "Grappling with Martin Luther King Jr. in Youth Literature: Sequence as Resistance," Capshaw will focus on several contemporary graphic novels that reimagine the Civil Rights Movement, King, and his impact. According to Capshaw, the way that King, the most iconic figure in the Civil Rights Movement, is represented to the young influences the ways in which we understand history and national identity. In her talk, she will consider the role of sequence in comics to disrupt what a reader thinks they know about the Civil Rights Movement and King.

"Because comics use sequence to depict events in continuity with other events, we understand more about the place of King within the larger landscape of Civil Rights—he becomes more humanized (and sometimes critiqued), and other grassroots activists rise to the surface,” she said. “Comics have the opportunity to broaden and democratize representation of the Civil Rights Movement."

Capshaw studies constructions of racialized childhood in literary and visual texts. She is the author of Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Children's Literature of the Harlem Renaissance (Indiana University Press, 2004). With Anna Mae Duane, Capshaw is editor of Who Writes for Black Children? African American Children's Literature Before 1900 (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). She is working on a book titled, Children's Theatre of the Black Arts Movement.

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