Time-Travelling Boxes? French History Comics as a New Way of Considering History.

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2024
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • History of historical culture
    • Narratology
    • Graphic arts
comics culture historical non-fiction
Project description

Lately, the assumption that comics are only made for entertainment and lack historical objectivity has tended to be obscured by a new function: historical fiction and nonfiction comics have established themselves as a laboratory for reflection on practices and meanings of historical writing, and have become both a phenomenon and a symbol. A phenomenon, for in France, since the 1990s, historical comics have been reaching a growing readership from various socio-cultural milieus; and a symbol of historiographic tensions and doubts, as many academics have been reading, commenting, and even creating history comics, in line with a reinvention of the historical discipline, hence opening up to new historiographic practices and to the popular treatment of history. This project analyzes these recent evolutions of representations and uses of history in French-language comics, by combining iconographic and literary analysis, the study of the publishing and reception of comics and interviews with authors, historians and publishers. I argue that history comics respond to a contemporary need to experience history but also to understand and reinvent its making and its functions. Indeed, one of the main effects of history comics today is to underline the current doubts of many historians concerning the capacity of scholarship to reconstruct history convincingly.