James Michael Hodapp (Northwestern University in Qatar)
Fellow in Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"
May – June 2022
Circulatory Considerations: Global South Comics and Afropolitanism
James Hodapp’s research project focuses on two distinct, yet intersecting, areas of literary studies: Global South comics and African literature.
Hodapp’s research conceptualises non-reductive ways of reading and understanding Global South comics in and of themselves without prioritizing western legibility. Rather than a Global South one-size-fits-all singularity of theory and method, his work signals the value of multifarious decentred approaches to specific comics and their traditions from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia, and indigenous Global South communities in the global north. In the forthcoming Graphic Novels and Comics as World Literature (Bloomsbury 2022) and subsequent work, he embraces the responsibility of understanding various comic traditions around the world as equals who demand that we reshape our ways of knowing them rather than reshape them to our ways of knowing - in other words, that we attempt as best we can to read them on their own terms. Although his work on Global South comics operates at a distance via theory and methodology, it ultimately employs granular level literary scholarship via close readings of texts such as Aya of Yop City, A Game for Swallows, Shuri, and Arab of the Future to flesh out those contexts as well as connect them to one another in lateral solidarity.
Hodapp is also an Africanist who has turned his focus recently to Afropolitan literature, a term used to characterise literature from and about Africa that is interested in the ways Africa interacts with the rest of the world. Although the term has been equally criticized and embraced, Hodapp’s current research, an extension of his Afropolitan Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury 2020), works to expand the definition of Afropolitan literature away from its elitist origins and more as a rejoinder to Afro-pessimism that enables an expansive inclusivity of the many ways in which Africa influences the world at large, often at odds ideologically with the very forces of globalisation that enable it.
James Hodapp is an assistant professor of English in the liberal arts program at Northwestern University in Qatar. His research on Global South and African literature, film, comics, podcasts, television and pedagogy has appeared in The Journal of Postcolonial Writing, English Studies in Africa, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, African Literature Today, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, The Global South and English in Africa, as well as in other journals and anthologies. He is also the editor of Afropolitan Literature as World Literature (2020) and Graphic Novels and Comics as World Literature (2022) from Bloomsbury Publishing.