Friday, April 14, 2017

April 28: Swann Foundation Fellow to Discuss German Cartoonist

Swann Foundation Fellow to Discuss German Cartoonist

Elizabeth Nijdam in Presentation on German Cartoonist Anke Feuchtenberger, April 28

Public Contact: Martha Kennedy (202) 707-9115
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Swann Foundation Fellow Elizabeth (Biz) Nijdam, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will discuss the comic art of the East German-born artist Anke Feuchtenberger in the context of her artistic training and the political climate in which she developed.

Nijdam will present "'It's Not Just Horror and Black:' The Comics of Anke Feuchtenberger and Their Many Expressionisms" at noon on Friday, April 28, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the Library's James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue  S.E., Washington, D.C.  The lecture is free and open to the public.  Tickets are not needed.

Feuchtenberger studied at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts.  It was not until after 1989, the year the Berlin Wall came down, that she embraced comics, an art form virtually non-existent for adult audiences in the German Democratic Republic. According to Nijdam, a striking feature of Feuchtenberger's art is its expressionist visual rhetoric. Her sequential art recalls early German modernism, emulating the aesthetic of the woodcut print, the claustrophobic and angular space of German expressionist cinema and the deformed bodies and elongated appendages of the work of Otto Dix and Georg Grosz.

This visual language predates Feuchtenberger's artistic production by more than seven decades, and raises the question—how did she come to adopt an early German expressionist style? Nijdam's presentation investigates the many sources of Feuchtenberger's woodcut aesthetic, tracing its influences to her East German training in the graphic arts, Weimar modernism, East German neo-expressionism and American alternative comics.

Nijdam is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Her research focuses on German comics after 1989, and her dissertation traces East German artistic traditions influencing the post-unification comics of Anke Feuchtenberger and Henning Wagenbreth, members of the PGH Gl├╝hende Zukunft (Glowing Future), a group that Feuchtenberger and fellow students founded. Nijdam's dissertation research has been published in the International Journal of Comic Art and World Literature Today. She has worked extensively on comics in the classroom and wrote a chapter on teaching German history with graphic novels in the book "Class, Please Open Your Comics" (2015).

Nijdam is the secretary for the executive committee of the International Comic Arts Forum and a member-at-large on the executive board of the Comics Studies Society's Graduate Student Caucus.  She is also the founding organizer for the Transnational Comics Studies Workshop at the University of Michigan. In 2017, she received the Rackham Outstanding Instructor Award for her teaching on comics.  In October, she will begin work on her book, "Panelled Pasts: East German History and Memory in the German Graphic Novel," as a postdoctoral fellow in the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin.             

This presentation, sponsored by the Swann Foundation and the Library's Prints and Photographs Division, is part of the foundation's continuing activities to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world.

The Swann Foundation's advisory board includes scholars, collectors, cartoonists and Library of Congress staff members.  The foundation awards fellowships annually (or biennially) to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. Applications for the 2017-2018 academic year will be due Monday, Feb. 15, 2018.  For more information, visit or e-mail

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