Location: Bowdoin / Elizabeth Muther


Elizabeth Muther

Associate Professor of English

Contact Information


Massachusetts Hall - 303

Teaching this semester

AFRS 3011/CINE 3011/ENGL 3011. African American Film

Advanced Seminar. Explores a spectrum of films produced since 1950 that engage African American cultural experience. Topics may include black-white buddy movies, the L.A. Rebellion, blaxploitation, the hood genre, cult classics, comedy and cross-dressing, and romance dramas. Of special interest will be the documentary impulse in contemporary African American film; gender, sexuality, and cultural images; the politics of interpretationówriters, filmmakers, critics, and audiences; and the urban context and the economics of alienation. Extensive readings in film and cultural theory and criticism. Note: Fulfills the film theory requirement for Cinema Studies minors.

ENGL 1116. Of Comics and Culture

An introduction to comics, graphic narratives, and sequential art. Explores elements of the history of the comics -- especially in a United States cultural context -- while examining the formal dimensions of this hybrid art. Considers the cultural functions of this work in theoretical terms, as well as the sociology of its reception. Examines comics as personal narrative, social criticism, political commentary, fantasy, and science fiction, among other modes. Special focus on the functions of humor, irony, pathos, and outrage, as deployed in historical and contemporary comic forms.

Elizabeth Muther


  • B.A., Wellesley College
  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley


Elizabeth Muther works in 20th and 21st century American and African American literatures with teaching and research interests in humor theory, visual culture studies, poetry, and children’s literature.  She has developed a cluster of courses that approach literary texts through theoretical and historical engagements with visual culture: “African American Literature and Visual Culture,” “Of Comics and Culture” (on graphic narratives and sequential art), “African American Children’s Literature,” “The Harlem Renaissance,” and “African American Film.”  She recently co-curated an exhibition at the Bowdoin Museum of Art entitled “Letters and Shadows: African American Art and Literature” that was linked to one of these courses. Her current book project, Shadow Dancing: Racial Doubles in Performance, explores the problems of racial mimicry and of shadow figures in American expressive culture.