Lancaster University has appointed renowned French graphic novelist and critic Benoît Peeters as its Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, the first such appointment in the UK. The news was announced by Professor Simon Guy on Wednesday 25 November.
The new post represents a significant investment in the academic significance of comic art by the University and has been created in close working partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF).
Additional support has been provided by Wallonia Brussels International (WBI).
The three-year appointment will see Mr Peeters deliver a series of lectures, run creative writing workshops, and supervise postgraduate students.
Lancaster University’s Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Professor Simon Guy said: “We are delighted Benoît has accepted this appointment.
“The appointment will bring a new dimension to our University and, in particular, to our English and creative writing courses. It will also demonstrate strong commitment to our collaboration with the increasingly popular and fast-expanding Lakes international Comic Art Festival.”
Benoît Peeters is a world-renowned authority on Hergé and Tintin, having written Tintin and the World of Hergé and Hergé’s biography, Hergé, Son Of Tintin.
He is also author of biographies about 19th century comics pioneer Rodolphe Töpffer, and the French philosopher Derrida, and co-creator, alongside François Schuiten, of Les Cités Obscures, one of Belgium’s most famous francophone comic strips created in the past 30 years.
On accepting the post, Mr Peeters said: “This professorship is a great honour for me. I was very impressed by my first contact with Lancaster University’s team.
“I want to explore the connections between the history of graphic fiction and contemporary creation, between the world of French and Belgian bande dessinée, and the world of comics and graphic novels”.
The appointment strengthens the links between the University and the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal and is the first of its kind in the UK. In the three years of its existence, LICAF has quickly established itself as a major annual event in October bringing together creators, publishers and audiences alike from across the world.
Julie Tait, the Festival director, said: “This appointment emanates from a unique collaboration between the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and Lancaster University, one of the UK’s leading HE institutions.
“I am delighted that the University is simultaneously recognising and celebrating the intellectual contribution of comic art to British cultural life, putting the comic medium on a par with the status accorded to this form elsewhere in Europe”.
By making this significant appointment, the University is not only acknowledging the Festival’s success but also its full academic commitment to placing comic book art not just in its creative writing and literature department, but also across its wider disciplines including philosophy.
The additional support of Wallonia Brussels International is part of a wider initiative to increase the visibility of Belgium Francophone culture in UK.
Benoît Peeters takes up his post in Summer 2016 and will be present at next year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which runs 14–16 October 2016.