Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Barrett Watten


This essay is a historiographical critique of the ways that the major historical narratives in the emerging field of Comics Studies are employed. I argue that scholars in the field utilize historical origin narratives and medium definitions with the intent to stake out a space of privilege for their privileged selections - thereby playing into a politics of legitimation. The major critic whose work I utilize to critique the major historical narratives of the medium, and ultimately the way that they are utilized, is the Frankfurt School critic Walter Benjamin. Not only do I employ Benjamin's work to interpret and critique the space of contestation between field scholars and historical narratives, I also utilize Benjamin's work to highlight critical practice, informed by a construct I call "the gift of the moment," that serves to circumvent and subvert this circular legitimating discourse. I conclude by suggesting a new social scholarly role, which I call the "Critic Collector," as model for oppositional politics.