University of Vermont

Center for Cultural Pluralism

Acclaimed Graphic Novelist Alison Bechdel, UVM Professor-at-Large, to Speak Feb. 11

Alison Bechdel. (Photo: Elena Seibert)

2012 Guggenheim Fellow Alison Bechdel, an American cartoonist and UVM James Marsh Professor-at-Large, will speak Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. in the Davis Center’s Sugar Maple Ballroom. Her talk, “Drawing Lessons: The Comics of Everyday Life” is free and open to the public.

For twenty-five years, Bechdel, who lives in Vermont, wrote and drew the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, a generational chronicle called “one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period.” (Ms. magazine.) Her graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was named Best Book of 2006 by Time magazine, which described the investigation into her closeted bisexual father’s suicide “a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.”

In 2008, Bechdel began devoting herself full-time to autobiographical work. Her second graphic memoir, Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama, was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2012 by Time magazine.

“She’s a kind of genius,” says Daniel Mark Fogel, professor of English and former president of UVM, who nominated Bechdel for Marsh Professor selection. “Bechdel in these works has created her own highly original visual poetics to create works of art that move with great authority from sight to profound human and humanistic insight.” Her work, Fogel says, is of broad multidisciplinary relevance and interest to the community.

The goal of UVM’s James Marsh Professor-at-Large program is to invigorate the academic and cultural life of the university. It accomplishes this by appointing individuals of international distinction to honorary faculty positions, bringing them periodically to campus for lectures, classroom visits, conferences and collaboration — with faculty and with students.

While the program has drawn on the international community — appointing a University of Oxford wildlife conservationist, a Ghanaian master drummer, a Swedish ecologist, to name a few — it also calls on outstanding individuals in the U.S., conferring honorary UVM professorships on faculty from Brown and Harvard Law, among other leading institutions. Also counted among Marsh professors: a U.S. senator, former governors and a Tony Award-winning performer and playwright.

Learn more about the James Marsh Professor-at-Large program.