2019 Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Award Winner: Dr. Susan Kirtley

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (BICLM) is pleased to announce the winner of the annual Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Award.  The award of up to $2500, named for the founding curator of the BICLM, Professor Emerita Lucy Shelton Caswell, supports researchers who need to travel to Columbus, Ohio to use the collections materials of the BICLM on site.

We were delighted to receive a robust and diverse range of proposals from both national and international scholars and artists. A panel of reviewers from a variety of disciplines at Ohio State was appointed to assess the proposals.

The recipient for 2019 is Dr. Susan Kirtley, Professor of English at Portland State University and Director of Comics Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in English from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her project is entitled “A Woman’s Place: The Rhetoric of Domesticity in Female-Created Comic Strips from 1976-2012.”  Kirtley’s research will focus on feminism and feminist history through the lens of the following comic strips: Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse, Lynda Barry’s strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, Cathy Guisewite’s Cathy, Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia and Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For. Kirtley states, “[this] group of female-created comic strips came to national attention, rendering a rhetoric of domesticity that, influenced by second-wave feminism, informed national opinion, simultaneously reinforcing and rejecting popular stereotypes of women, children, and family while positing new roles for women inside and outside the home.” Her research will focus on “defining and exploring the ramifications of this multifarious expression of women’s roles at a time of great change in history and in comic art.” Kirtley’s project requires the use of the Nicole Hollander and Lynn Johnston papers and original art, as well as other materials.

Kirtley’s research will culminate in a book, currently under contract with The Ohio State University Press. Congratulations to Dr. Susan Kirtley!  The application process for the 2020 award will take place in Fall 2019.

Ongoing support of this award was made possible by a generous gift from the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation, which was matched by many additional donors to create an endowment.  The endowment will provide funding for one award to be given each year.