Harris carpets comics degree

June 10, 2011 in News

Rob Murray writes:

Dundee University is offering a one-year Masters degree in comic studies, which will be run by its department of English from September this year.

Course founder Dr Chris Murray told the BBC the programme will look at topics such as autobiographical comics and the relationship between international comics cultures.

The new course will surely be welcomed by cartoonists and enthusiasts keen to raise the profile of our industry and the work we produce. But it has already attracted criticism not least from Labour MP Tom Harris.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/TomHarrisMP/status/77850259354697728″]

The MP first took aim on Tuesday later adding that an academic course in comics “plays right into the Tories’ hands.” Presumably acknowledging Dundee’s significance to the history of comics as the home of D.C. Thomson, he also tweeted: “Yeah, looking forward to Sheffield University doing a degree in forks.”

Bloghorn thinks Harris’ comments reflect the longstanding and widespread snobbery in the UK when it comes to comics, which tends to pigeonhole the art form as simplistic kiddie-fare (and, by extension, not worthy of serious study).

The thread of the MP’s argument is available here.

We will be taking a closer look at this subject in a follow up piece on Bloghorn next week. Meanwhile please do use the comments below if you have something to say about this.

4 responses to Harris carpets comics degree

  1. Well I couldn’t read Mr Harris’ comments because I don’t want to set foot[beak] in the world of Twitter, a strange place which encourages ignorance to appear otherwise because its in print. That said, I’m sure Mr Harris has already consigned this academic initiative to his version of Higher Ed’s waste bin. I wonder if he’s read the proposed syllabus. I wonder if he’s an ex – Wizard/Hotspur type, both of which were way too brainy for me and had few pics. More to the point might be to wonder if such a degree would be better placed as part of another qualification – say Sociology – because comics, their fashions and popularity are a symptom of a wider society. I’m not sure that they merit exclusive study at degree level. We shall see.
    Mr Harris tweets. Perhaps he should tweed.

  2. Bill, did you have to slag off twitter whilst condeming the tweet of a prat? The ignorance is that of the man, not the medium. Twitter, combined with tweetdeck, is an absolute godsend to cartoonists, although it has to be said it benefits the wider cartooning community of comics artists/writers/graphic novel creators/web comic artists and mini-comics creators, more than traditional gag/magazine cartoonists (although having said that most New Yorker cartoonists tweet). More than just one or two of us have picked up book deals and comicbook work through twitter contacts. In fact, a cartoonist I know was offered a book deal on twitter yesterday.

  3. article in response to Tom Harris:

    http://www.graduatetimes.com/notebook/

  4. Hello Rod,
    Well yes, I suppose I did slag Twitter off, and it shouldn’t be reckoned without, especially considering its use and value in countries which need a “safe” means of instant communication. I should, as you suggested,have criticized the tweeter not the tweet in Mr Harris’s case. There is an awful lot of inconsequential ballast tweeted though, is there not ? And Facebooked and Youtubed. Who knows, there may be offered in the not too distant future, a degree in Twitter Studies.

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