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Comics-Related Dissertations & Theses: Undergraduate

Note: The original list has now been separated into three pages.
See also: Doctoral Dissertations and Theses || Masters Theses

To submit additions or corrections, please contact usIf submitting your own information, you may send as much as you wish. Suggestions for information include:
  • your full name
  • title of project
  • level [doctoral, master's, undergraduate] & degree
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  • publication information (if the work has been published in whole or in part)
Entries marked New! or Revised! have been added or revised since June 20, 2011.
See also:
For more information on comics in academia, see our Academic Resources page.
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Note: Degrees awarded are B.A. unless otherwise specified.

Revised! Boatner, Charles. 1977. Appreciating ComicsIndividual major with High Honors; Thesis Committee Head: David Swanger. University of California, Santa Cruz.
Summary: A personal review of the unique appeals of comic books, followed by an early stab at evaluating how the medium tells its stories.  Most of the examples are from 60s and 70s DCs and Marvels.  Includes visual analysis of two specific titles.

Chang, Vanessa. 2003. Kabuki: The Myth of Face. Vassar College, English. Thesis advisor: Peter Antelyes. On-line version.

Clegg, Mark. 1978. Understanding Comics. B.A. in Comics Art with Honors. University of California, Santa Cruz.
   "It [...] examined the medium of comics to discover the fundamental processes of how it works to communicate from creator to consumer. Projection is uncovered to be the underlying principle. It has not been published, but it was circulated in a professionals-only amateur press alliance in the late '80's. Scott McCloud was one of the founding members of that apa." --MC

Cohn, Neil. 2002. A Time Frame of Mind: Visual Language and Buddhist  Dharma Theory. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of California, Berkeley.  Published version appears in Berkeley Undergraduate Journal 31 (Spring 2003): 1-34.  On-line version linked from this page.

Effron, Samuel Asher. 1996. Taking Off the Mask. Invocation and Formal Presentation of the Superhero Comic in Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen B.A., awarded High Honors from the Honors College.  Wesleyan University, Department of American Studies. Advisor: Richard Slotkin. On-line version containing the final two chapters (out of four).

Gordon, Ian. 1986. Stop Laughing This is Serious: The Comic Art Form and Australian Identity 1880-1960. University of Sydney.

Gray, Margaret. 2004. Neil Gaiman's 'The Sandman': 'Comic' or 'Graphic Novel'? A Study of the 'Adult Revolution' of the 1980s and the Resultant Terminological Debate.
BA dissertation (bridge essay); BA Combined History of Art and English & Related Literature(EQ). University of York. contact

   Abstract: An examination of the advent of the term 'graphic novel' in the context of postmodernism and the so-called 'adult revolution' of the 1980s. Reading 'Sandman's' innovation in terms of breaking the traditional genre and publication conventions of comics, but not transcending the medium itself but rather exposing its unique narrative and semiotic potential. As a 'bridge essay' between the history of art and english literature, this dissertation questions the ability of either discipline to adequately address comics as an autonomous rather than hybrid medium. It also questions the motives behind scholarly and industry attempts to give comics cultural legitimacy by mobilising the term 'graphic novel'.

Hague, Ian. 2007. Historiographic Metafiction in From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. University of Hull, English. BA (hons). Supervisor: Dr. Jane Thomas.
   Abstract: An application of Patricia Waugh’s concept of Historiographic Metafiction (see A Poetics of Postmodernism) to Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell’s From Hell and Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Volumes 1 & 2).

Hernández, Alvaro David Hernández. 2009. El impacto de la animación japonesa en México. [The impact of the Japanese animation in Mexico.] Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, licenciatura en Etnología, México. [National school of Anthropology and History, Ethnology.] Bachelor of Ethnology.

Huitula, Kristian. 2000. Comic Book's Relation to Sound and Multimedia.
Tampere Polytechnic, Finland; Medianomi AMK/ BA in Media. Author's website.

Hutchings, Martina. 1996. The Female in Japanese Comics. Honors, Swinburne, Japanese.

Jones, Jessica Eleri. 2009. The Representation of Gender and Sexuality in Alan Moore's Watchmen. BA (hons) English, Liverpool John Moores University. Contact:

Kraemer, Christine Hoff. 2000. The Creative Apocalypse: Post-WWII Representations of Death, Rebirth, and Transformation. Supervised by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers; second reader, Dr. Susan Napier. Online information.
Abstract: The existence of the atomic bomb has made humanity keenly aware of its own ability to shape its destiny – or at least to choose its end. This has problematized traditional apocalyptic narratives, which often focus on the subjugation of humanity to forces beyond its control. In response, poet Gregory Corso ("Bomb"), animation director Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion), and comics writer Alan Moore (Watchmen) have co-opted the apocalyptic narrative to explore the existential consequences of humanity as a self-defining, self-destroying entity. In all three works, apocalypse serves to rip away existing structures and identities. Unlike the Revelation of St. John, where ultimate destruction reveals the divine order beneath, however, apocalypse in these works reveals only a yawning emptiness, an absence of meaning and order. Rather than dissolving into nihilism, however, these works offer strategies for living a fulfilling life in a universe where there is no underlying metaphysical structure. Through taking responsibility for our role in creating meaning and structure in our lives, our ability to collectively and individually self-define becomes empowering. In this sense, apocalypse becomes a creative process, a metaphor for the constant destruction and new birth of our identities and self-narratives. Finally, apocalypse serves to dramatize and exaggerate this process, helping us to become aware of the cycle of self-definition so that we can more deliberately take part in it.

Kuechenmeister, Bobby James. 2005 (anticipated). Christ, Anti-Christ, or Super-Hero: Green Lantern Through the Looking Glass.
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Literature.  Mentor: Dr. Joel Pace, Assistant Professor of English. Published version appears in Prism: A Student Journal of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Vol. 7 (2004). E-mail: <>

   Abstract: Analysis of religious values found in Green Lantern comics. Focuses on presenting Green Lantern / Hal Jordan as Christ and Anti-Christ personae in the "Emerald Twilight," "Zero Hour," and "Final Night" story arcs.

Kim, Hak Joon. 1997. Sports Manga: A Contemporary Expression of the Japanese Spirit. Honors dissertation. Monash University, Japanese Studies.

King, Terry. 1973. Social and Historical Aspects of the Australian Comic Strip. B.A. Hons.

Lancelot, Ronan. 1997.
"Hot Dang, look at them commies run!" Communism through mainstream super hero comic books, 1945-1997.  Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Grenoble.

Li, Rosanna. 1996. Images of the Family in Four Japanese Comics.  Honors dissertation. Monash University, Japanese Studies.

Muskat, Etan. 2003. Cartooning Truth: Towards a Documentary of Comix. Thesis Project, Bachelor of Arts, English (Cultural Studies). McGill University, 2003. Montreal, Canada. Thesis advisor: Professor Michael Bristol.
   Abstract: This paper discusses comix as a potential site for documentary and will focus on three artists, each coming to the fore during various periods over the last thirty-odd years: Robert Crumb, the artist responsible for popularizing underground comix, Art Spiegelman, the first artist to win mainstream critical acclaim for a comic book, and Joe Sacco, currently redefining the potential of the form to engage with contemporary historical narratives.
   What distinguishes these three artists is not merely their concern with history and current events, but their willingness to ‘call a spade a spade’. While comics have always in some way represented the psychological subconscious of the society that produces them, there has always been an impetus to submerge these concerns in the conventions of genre. Its was not until Crumb began actually describing his own experiences with the Haight-Ashbury counterculture of the late 1960’s that comix began to engage directly with the issues to which they had always been referring.
   All three of these artists are characters in their own narratives: they call attention to themselves as the conduit for history. This point is extremely important when defining the concept of ‘documentary’. In film, the definition of this notion has been extremely problematic. However, film is the only medium that possesses such a category and has received academic attention for it. Therefore, for the purpose of this argument, the cinematic concept of documentary will be used as a starting point. In as much, it is essential to determine what documentary is, what the label entails, and how the artist, author or filmmaker’s own experiences and personality have come to occupy a very central position in the creation of documentary artworks.

Patrick, Kevin John. 2009. Comic Books, Australian Society and Cultural Anxiety: 1956-1986. Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Communications. Monash Univ rsity (Clayton, Victoria, Australia); Arts Faculty - School of English, Communications & Perofrmance Studies. Contact - Blog
   Abstract: Recent media coverage of the  new wave  of Australian graphic novels frequently infers that such works are the first of their kind to be published in Australia. Yet, such reports overlook the fact that Australia once boasted a thriving comic book industry, which easily surpassed the modest output of present-day graphic novel publishing in Australia.
   This thesis explores how comic books created between 1956 and 1986 emblematise a period of commercial upheaval and creative experimentation within the Australian comic book industry. The comic books produced during this era both instigated and reflected a range of deeply-felt cultural anxieties evident within Australian society, and hence provide a fascinating and little analysed window onto the social history of this period.
   This thesis focuses on the largely overlooked western, horror and romance comic book genres, which were amongst the most popular with Australian audiences between 1956 and 1986, thereby redressing the disproportionate emphasis on superheroes evident in much scholarly writing about comic books.
   This thesis adopts a multi-dimensional theoretical approach, which evaluates its subject from a variety of perspectives, incorporating elements of political economy, cultural policy and textual analysis. The analysis also privileges media theory s concept of glocalisation as a means of analysing both the practice of repackaging overseas comics for the Australian market, as well as the efforts of domestic publishers to develop distinctively Australian variations on foreign comic book idioms.
   By examining a unique constellation of textual production strategies, government policies, and audience preferences that shaped the Australian comic book industry during this period, this thesis demonstrates how the seemingly ephemeral comic book has become a key resource for reconstructing broader social concerns about such significant issues as national identity, gender roles, sexuality and media censorship.

Simmonds, Adam. 1996. Manga and Pornography after the Harmful Comic Controversy. Honors dissertation. Monash University, Japanese Studies

Tang, Happy. 2000. Female Creation and Consumption of Male Homosexuality: A Case Study of Yaoi Manga. Honors dissertation. Monash University, Japanese Studies.

Taylor, Constance. 2003. Independent Study: Comic Book Industry. University of Dayton, English. Advisor: Dr. Irene J. Dickey.

Woo, Benjamin. 2004. Untangling Comics. Honors thesis, Queen's University, Canada, Film Studies. On-line version.

Back to top of page || Doctoral Dissertations and Theses || Master's Theses
Sources: Apart from general Internet searches, the following resources were consulted: The Modern Language Association Bibliography, 1969-2002; The Comics Research Bibliography; The Comics Scholars Discussion List; Dissertation Abstracts International; The Dreaming; Michigan State University Library's Catalog Info on "Dissertations About Comics"; WorldCat; personal corresponences. Special thanks to Martin de la Iglesia, Fabio Gadducci, Mark Rogers, Michael Rhode, and Leonard Rifas.

Publicity: Information about this site was originally posted to the Comics Scholars Discussion List. Thanks to the following resources for mentioning this site: EGON; Hijinx Comics; ¡Journalista!: The Comics Journal' Weblog by Dirk Deppey (9th item down).

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This Page Last Updated June 20, 2011.