Maaheen Ahmed - COMICS

                                                Description of the PI

 Maheen AhmedI am associate professor at Ghent University and principal investigator of the COMICS project. I obtained my PhD (with distinction) from Jacobs University Bremen in 2011. Since then, I have held postdoctoral positions at the Université catholique de Louvain (Marie Curie co-fund) and Ghent University (FWO).
I often work on contemporary, alternative graphic novels and comics in English and in French. My interests are wide: I have written and presented on superheroes, autobiographical comics, the representation of war in comics and, more recently, children in comics.
My first book, Openness of Comics: Generating Meaning within Flexible Structures was published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2016. A second book, Monstrous Imaginaries: The Legacy of Romanticism in Comics is under contract with the same press. I have also co-edited volumes such as The Cultural Standing of Comics/Le statut culturel de la BD, with Stéphanie Delneste and Jean-Louis Tilleuil (Academia/L’Harmattan, 2017) and, most recently, Comics Memory with Benoît Crucifix (Palgrave, 2018).



An Intercultural History of Children in Comics from 1865 to Today (COMICS)

Although comics studies is a rapidly growing field, we still know very little about the representation and function of children in comics. This project seeks to construct an intercultural history of children in European comics, covering popular comic strips, comics magazines, graphic novels for both children and adults from Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.

The project takes Wilhelm Busch’s iconic Max und Moritz picture story from 1865 as its starting point and focuses on comic strips and comics magazines from the 20th century.  Combining comics studies and childhood studies COMICS incorporates specific insights from cultural studies (history of family life, history of public life, history of the body, affect theory and scholarship on the carnivalesque) to examine the different and changing roles played by children in comics.
In doing so, the project charts the transformation of the child figure in European comics. It examines key themes that are not only theoretical concerns for the humanities but also continue to shape our daily lives. These themes include the channelling of modern anxieties through popular culture, figurations of the child and childishness, adult-child power relations, the tension between freedom and liberty, the involvement of children in commercial endeavors, as well as representations of the body, family, school and public life and the prominence of affects such as nostalgia, happiness and shame. COMICS also seeks to increase collective knowledge about European comic strips through focusing on comics that are often overlooked or forgotten and through presenting results to both scholars and the interested public.

Project website:  (from November 2018)