Literature vs. Comics: 44th Annual Lipsey Lecture

-Will Hawks, Contributing Writer

On Mar. 26, Brannon Costello will travel to Mississippi College to deliver the 44th Annual Sue Price Lipsey Lecture. The lecture, titled “One Thing After Another: Comic Books, Serial Narratives, and Literary Culture,” will take place free of charge at 7 p.m. in the Board Meeting Room of B.C. Rogers.

In his roughly one-hour-long speech, Costello will attempt to dispel the notion that certain types of well-studied literature are in any way superior to less-prominent forms, like comics. Classic literature is praised for its complexity. Surface-level plot lines hide deeper plot elements and mask layer upon layer of symbolism and motifs and allegory. But Costello believes that there is an entire facet of literature which exhibits these revered qualities in an arguably more effective way, but has been reduced to a teenager’s free time or a reminiscent collector’s trophy case.

“In my lecture, I’m particularly interested in exploring comics that were reaching for the sort of depth that we associate with great literature in an era before the graphic novel really took off as a publishing format,” said Costello, referring to the book format consisting of comic strips that has gained popularity in the last 20 years. “I’m planning to talk about the ways that we have to adjust our notions of what constitutes ‘great literature’ in order to better understand these works and better understand the development of comics as an art form.”

Costello is an associate professor of English at Louisiana State University. Like most Lipsey Lecture headliners, Costello is an alumnus of Mississippi College and has also received degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi and The University of Tennessee.

He has written a book on Southern literature and several essays published by peer-reviewed journal Mississippi Quarterly and by the University Press of Mississippi.

The Mississippi College Humanities Lectureship was founded in September 1971 and renamed three years later in honor of Mrs. Sue Price Lipsey, who served as on the Mississippi College faculty from 1946 to 1974, almost 30 years. The program is currently the longest continuously running lectureship on MC’s campus.


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