Below is a directory of the Comics Studies Cluster members.
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Elizabeth Nijdam (she/her)

Elizabeth “Biz” Nijdam is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where she lives, works and learns on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

Before joining the faculty at UBC and returning home to Vancouver, she taught at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington (2018-2019) and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Freie Universität in Berlin (2017-2018). She graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2017.

Biz’s research and teaching examine the representation of history in comics, comics and new media on forced migration, intersections between Indigenous studies and German, European, and migration studies, and feminist methodologies in the graphic arts.

At UBC, she leads the Narratives Research Group in the UBC Centre for Migration Studies and founded and co-leads the recently established Comic Studies Research Cluster in UBC’s Public Humanities Hub. Biz is also the Equity Chair for German Studies Canada and sits on the Executive Committee of the International Comic Arts Forum and the Executive Board of the Comics Studies Society.

She is currently completing her book manuscript, Graphic Historiography: Teaching History & Memory through Comics and Graphic Novels (Ohio State University Press), which she began as a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo (2019-2021).

Sarah Leavitt (she/her)

Sarah Leavitt is a cartoonist and educator whose particular areas of interest include autobiographical comics, formal experimentation in comics, and comics pedagogy—developing strategies for teaching comics creation as well as exploring how comics creation shapes students’ work in other forms of writing.

Sarah’s first book, Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me (2010), was published in Canada and internationally, and translated into French, German, and Korean. Tangles was the first comic to be nominated for a Writers’ Trust Award, and has become a widely-studied work in the growing field of comics and medicine. A feature-length animation of Tangles is in development with Giant Ant animation studio and a major American production company.

Sarah’s second book, Agnes, Murderess, was published in Canada in September 2019 and won a Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature (fiction) and an Alberta Book Publishers Award (speculative fiction). Agnes was a finalist for both Canadian comics prizes, the Doug Wright Awards and Joe Shuster Awards. Sarah has also published short comics in magazines and anthologies, as well as self-publishing her work in printed zines and online.

Her current work-in-progress is a collection of short, experimental comics about her partner’s death in 2020.

Sarah has been developing and teaching comics classes in the UBC School of Creative Writing since 2012. She is also an instructor in the new Biomedical Visualization and Communication Certificate, a collaboration between the UBC Faculty of Medicine Hackspace for Innovation and Visualization in Education (HIVE) and the Centre for Digital Media.

Cluster Members

Toph Marshal

Toph Marshall is a professor in the Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on ancient performance traditions and the presentation of myth and the ancient world in modern popular media, especially comics. He is the co-editor with George Kovacs of Classics and Comics (OUP, 2011) and Son of Classics and Comics (OUP, 2016). His articles on comics have discussed adaptations of the Odyssey, representations of the Furies in Wonder Woman and Sandman, Hercules and the Incredible Hulk, with specific studies of works by Frank Miller, Dave Sim, Paul Hornschemeier, and Jonathan Hickman. He was the Academic Director of the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF) from 2010–2016 and is a founding member of the Comic Studies Society. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2021. 


 Taylor Brown-Evans

Taylor Brown–Evans is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist living in Vancouver. His work has appeared in Geist, Matrix, Poetry is Dead, The Feathertale Review, Ricepaper Magazine as well as alternative press zines, chapbooks. His most recent project, Songs for a Lost Pod, is a comicbook collaboration with local songwriter Leah Abramson.




  Dallas Hunt (she/her)

Dallas Hunt is Cree and a member of Wapsewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta, Canada. He has had creative and critical work published in the Malahat Review, Arc Poetry, Canadian Literature, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. His teaching and research interests include Indigenous literatures, Indigenous theory & politics, Canadian literature, speculative fiction, settler colonial studies, and environmental justice. His children’s book, Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock, was published through Highwater Press in 2018, and his first collection of poetry, CREELAND, was published in 2022. Dallas’ newest collection, entitled Teeth, is out through Nightwood Editions in Spring of 2024. 

 Jennifer Nagtegaal

Jennifer Nagtegaal is a PhD candidate in Hispanic Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where she likewise completed a master’s degree in Hispanic Studies in 2016. Jennifer’s research, funded by the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), develops at the crossroads of cultural studies and contemporary Hispanic visual culture in the areas of comics studies and animation studies, and sometimes at the intersection of both.

Jennifer’s monograph, Politically Animated: Non-Fiction Animation from the Hispanic World, is forthcoming with University of Toronto Press (October 2023). Politically Animated offers the first book-length study on animated non-fiction from the Spanish-speaking world. There is a particular focus on the political implications that arise from formal and narrative decision-making in animated documentary production. A sub-focus explores the convergences between comics art and animation. 

Jennifer has also published a number of essays on Hispanic comics and animation in high-ranking journals such as the Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies and the Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, and in edited volumes such as The Routledge Companion to Gender and Sexuality in Comic Book Studies. Jennifer is currently working on her dissertation, titled “Aesthetic Experiments with Comics and other Arts in the Hispanic World and Beyond.”

 Luisa Canuto

Luisa Canuto has been teaching language courses for UBC French, Hispanic and Italian Studies since 1994. In that same year, Luisa founded and then coordinated the Italian Program for UBC Continuing Studies, trained all the instructors, developed the curriculum for the program and created and led the UBC travel program in Italy. After winning the Killam Prize for excellence in teaching in 2000, she started working for the Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth (currently CTLT) as Faculty Associate and Manager, and developed educational programs for Faculty members, including Orientation events, Teaching and Learning Institutes and the Academic Leadership Development Program for new UBC Academic Leaders. She sat in the board of the Italian Cultural Centre for two years and developed and facilitated the teachers’ training program for the Centre.

Luisa is currently full-time at the French, Hispanic and Italian Studies department with a recently acquired PhD on the topic of service learning for language acquisition, to teach and coordinate Italian language and culture courses. Her research interests include the use of educational technologies in the classroom, the impact of service learning on students’ linguistic and metacognitive development and curriculum program renewal and development.

Luisa has acquired graduate degrees in disciplines ranging from History to publishing to second language acquisition and teaching. Each degree reflects her diverse passions and learning interests — Italian and Venetian Medieval and Renaissance history, journalism and teaching and learning theories and best practices.

For 2017-18, Luisa is the Peer Review of Teaching program coordinator and is co-coordinating the UBC Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Community of Practice.

 Alessandra Santos

Alessandra Santos is an associate professor of Film Studies at the University of British Columbia. She specializes in Latin American cinema, literature, and culture. Her interest areas are utopias, technology, visual culture, gender, race, and decolonial studies. Her publications include a book on the transnational/Mexican cult film The Holy Mountain (2017); and two co-edited interdisciplinary volumes on utopias in the Americas. Her current project is on Afrofuturism cinema in Brazil. Her research has been supported by multiple grants including a current SSHRC Insight Grant.


 Antje Ellermann (she/they)

Antje Ellermann (she/they) is a Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the Centre for Migration Studies at UBC. Their research focuses on the politics of migration and citizenship in liberal democracies. They are particularly interested in the nexus between international migration and the politics of policymaking and implementation, coercive state power and migrant resistance; legal precarity; and the intersection of migration, settler colonialism, and Indigeneity.

Their latest book The Comparative Politics of Immigration: Policy Choices in Germany, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States was published in 2021 with Cambridge University Press as part of the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series. It was recognized with the Charles H. Levine Memorial Book Prize (co-winner) by the International Political Science Association.

Andrea Webb  

Andrea spent a decade as a high school teacher before returning to higher education as a teacher educator. Her research interests lie in teaching and learning in higher education, and she is involved in research projects related to Threshold concepts, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), and Social Studies Teacher Education. Currently, Andrea is part of a multinational SSHRC-funded project, Narrative Art & Visual Storytelling in Holocaust and Human Rights Education.


Charlotte Schallié 

Charlotte Schallié is a Professor of Germanic Studies and Chair of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria. Her teaching and research interests include memory studies, visual culture studies & graphic narratives, teaching and learning about the Holocaust, genocide and human rights education, community-engaged participatory research, and arts-based action research. Together with Andrea Webb, she is the project co-director of a 7-year SSHRC-funded Partnership Grant entitled “Visual Storytelling and Graphic Art in Genocide and Human Rights Education”


Shannon Leddy

Dr. Shannon Leddy is a card-carrying member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia and an Associate Professor of art education at the University of British Columbia whose practice focuses on using transformative pedagogies in decolonizing and Indigenizing teacher education. Her PhD research at Simon Fraser University focused on inviting pre-service teachers into dialogue with contemporary Indigenous art as a mechanism of decolonization in order to help them become adept at delivering Indigenous education without reproducing colonial stereotypes. Before arriving at UBC, Shannon taught high school Art, Social Studies, and English.  She is the Co-Chair of the Institute for Environmental Learning, and a Research Fellow with the Institute for Public Education/BC.  Her forthcoming book, Teaching where you are: weaving slow and Indigenous pedagogies, written with Dr. Lorrie Miller, will be available from the University of Toronto Press in spring 2024. She is also a mother and a Nehiyaw/Cree language learner as well as a Danish language learner.


Annick Pellegrin

Annick Pellegrin is a graduate of The University of Sydney. She is a columns and articles editor for Comics Forum and sits on the editorial board of Studies in Comics. Her research has been published in French, English and Spanish, most recently in Identity and History in Non-Anglophone Comics, Critical Approaches to Horror Comic Books and Trans Identities in the French Media. She also guest edited (with María Celina Bortolotto) an issue of Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research dedicated to the Argentine Roberto Fontanarrosa. She is currently working as a Sessional Lecturer in the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies (FHIS) at UBC.

Jason Stephan Lieblang

Dr. Jason Lieblang is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the Department of CENES and the Director of First-Year and Interdisciplinary Programs in the Faculty of Arts. He has been fascinated by comics since he was a child, and has been teaching with and about them for over 15 years. He co-developed and now regularly teach his department’s course on the Graphic Novel in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe (CENS 308), and he has also been involved in bringing cartoonists and comics scholars Nick Sousanis and Paul Karasik to UBC for events. He find comics a valuable medium through which to improve students’ visual literacy and to make them aware of how important form is to understanding and appreciating culture.  


Rush Dhillon

Rush Dhillon is a scientist and a cartoonist, and he tries to blur those two realms. He especially enjoys translating concepts in biochemistry, physiology, and evolution into comics as a tangible zine for the purposes of broader consumption. During his many years spent as a research scientist, he has found cartoons are an effective tool for presenting findings with colleagues and the public. The ability to share his research and the research of others with a wider audience is exceptionally rewarding, and he feels it is incumbent upon scientists to tell the stories of the universe around us to everyone. Outside of science, he loves all things Vancouver (contemporary and historical) and bicycling, and it just so happens they take centre stage in many of his comics, as well!


Nicola Levell

Nicola Levell is an associate professor of museum and visual anthropology at UBC, Vancouver, and an award-winning independent curator. Her research and publications focus on exhibitions, collections history, public and performing arts, and storytelling. She has curated exhibitions and art installations in the United Kingdom, Portugal, the United States, Canada, and online ( Her recent books include the edited volume Bodies of Enchantment: Puppets from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas (2021) and the monograph Mischief Making: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Art, and the Seriousness of Play (2021), which explores the intersections of oral narratives and graphic practice in the work of Yahgulanaas, the celebrated Haida manga artist. In 2023, she coordinated the multi-sited student exhibition Haida X Manga (, part of which debuted at the International Comics Art Forum, Vancouver.


Gavin Paul

Gavin Paul teaches in the Arts One program, where he regularly puts graphic novels on the reading list. He has published on 9/11 and serialized comics, written numerous reviews of monographs on comics scholarship, and served on the Editorial Board for the Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels (2 vols, Greenwood 2010) and Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (4 vols, Greenwood 2014). He contributed over a dozen entries to both of these series.

Ph.D. Students

 Victoria Rahbar (she/they | Mx.)

Victoria Rahbar is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia School of Information. Rahbar’s research interests include cultural representation in manga, seeking out narratives around disability and neurodiversity, and manga in postsecondary education and academic library collections. She applies her research to the needs of libraries, speaking on manga for teen and adult readers at academic conferences and anime conventions. Other areas of interest include accessibility, censorship, localization, materiality, and the reading experience. Previously, she worked in academic libraries.