Hillary Chute

Hilary Chute

Associate Professor
Department of English
Department of Visual Arts, Associate Faculty
Committee on Creative Writing

On Leave Academic Year 2015-2016

Office: Walker 516

I am interested in the ways people address history and understand their lives through cultural invention. My current teaching and research interests lie in contemporary American literature, specifically in how public and private histories take shape in the form of innovative narrative work. I am particularly interested in the relationships between word and image, fiction and nonfiction that we see in contemporary comics, a field with roots in the 1970s that is also connected to deeper histories of drawn reportage and visual witnessing.

My book Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, which examines the graphic narrative work of five authors, including Alison Bechdel and Marjane Satrapi, argues that the medium of comics has opened up new spaces for nonfiction narrative—particularly for expressing certain kinds of stories typically relegated to the realm of the private. I am also the author of Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists, which examines the aesthetics and the practices of twelve literary cartoonists. 

My next book, Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form, is forthcoming in Fall 2015 from Harvard University Press.  It looks at the post-World War II environment in which Art Spiegelman in America and Keiji Nakazawa in Japan concurrently developed comics as a form for addressing the fallout of war, as well as exploring current graphic reportage by figures such as Joe Sacco on the Balkans and the Middle East.

I am Associate Editor of a book by Spiegelman called MetaMaus (Pantheon, 2011), about the making of his terrain-shifting graphic narrative Maus. MetaMaus won a National Jewish Book Award and an Eisner Award.

In Spring 2014, I co-edited a special issue of Critical Inquiry on "Comics and Media" with Patrick Jagoda. I have recently written on "Graphic Narrative" for The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, and on historical postmodernism for a special issue of Twentieth-Century Literature, as well as on the subject of archives and comics for a special issue of e-misférica. I write on issues of form and history in many different kinds of venues and have published essays and interviews in magazines including The Believer and Artforum. As a Contributing Editor, I worked on the latest edition of the Heath Anthology of American Literature (Contemporary Volume), and I founded, in 2009, the MLA's Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives.

I am a Faculty Fellow at the the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, and director of the Artists' Salon project there, as well as faculty co-sponsor of the American Literatures and Cultures workshop and faculty sponsor of the Gender and Sexuality Studies workshop on the theme of "Desire." I collaborated in 2012 with inaugural Mellon Fellow Alison Bechdel, through the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, and organized the "Comics: Philosophy and Practice" conference at the University in May 2012. See my Critical Inquiry interview with Alison Bechdel here. See me and Art Spiegelman talk about MetaMaus at the 92nd St. Y here. See me and comics theorist Scott McCloud talk at the Brattle Theatre here. For the academic year 2012-2013, I was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining the faculty, I was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.  


Graduate: The Aesthetics of Comics; Pynchon/DeLillo and the Problem of America; Lines of Transmission: Comics and Autobiography; The Chicago Graphic Novel; Vietnam; Documentary: Aesthetics and Evidence

Undergraduate: Literature of 9/11; Lines of Transmission: Comics and Autobiography; Media Aesthetics; Contemporary Graphic Narratives

Selected Publications

  • Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form (Harvard University Press, forthcoming January 2016).
  • Comics & Media, special issue of Critical Inquiry, co-edited with Patrick Jagoda (2014).
  • "Hillary Chute on Julie Doucet," Artforum (2014).
  • "Trans Mission (Review of Ariel Schrag's Adam)," Bookforum (2014).
  • Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists (University of Chicago Press, 2014). 
  • "Richard Gray, After the Fall: American Literature Since 9/11 and Martin Randall, 9/11 and the Literature of Terror" (review), American Literature (2013).
  • Interview with Jules Feiffer, Bookforum (2013).
  • "Secret Labor: Sketching the Connections Between Comics and Poetry," Poetry Magazine (2013).
  • "Comics as Archives: MetaMetaMaus," special issue of e-misfĂ©rica (published by the NYU Hemispheric Institute) "On the Subject of Archives" (2012).
  • "Graphic Narrative," in The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, ed. Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons, and Brian McHale (2012).
  • "Comic Books and Graphic Novels" (with Marianne DeKoven), The Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction, ed. David Glover and Scott McCracken (2012).
  • MetaMaus, Associate Editor (Pantheon, 2011).
  • "Comics Form and Narrating Lives," Profession (2011).
  • "The Popularity of Postmodernism," special issue of Twentieth-Century Literature on "Postmodernism, Then" (2011).
  • Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics (ColumbiaUniversity Press, 2010).
  • "'Victim. Perpetrator. Bystander': Critical Distance in Sarah Kane's Theater of Cruelty," in Sarah Kane in Context, ed. Laurens de Vos and Graham Saunders (Manchester University Press, 2010).
  • "Graphic Narrative," in A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory, ed. Michael Payne and Jessica Rae Barbera (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
  • "Comics as Literature? Reading Graphic Narrative," PMLA (2008).
  • "Ragtime, Kavalier & Clay, and the Framing of Comics," Mfs: Modern Fiction Studies (2008).
  • "The Texture of Retracing in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis," Women's Studies Quarterly (2008).
  • "Temporality and Seriality in Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers," American Periodicals (2007).
  • "Graphic Narratives of Illness" (review essay), Literature and Medicine (2007).
  • "'The Shadow of a Past Time': History and Graphic Representation in Maus," Twentieth-Century Literature (2006).
  • "Decoding Comics" (review essay of comics scholarship), Mfs: Modern Fiction Studies (2006).
  • Graphic Narrative, special issue of Mfs: Modern Fiction Studies, co-edited with Marianne DeKoven (2006).
  • "Irigaray's Erotic Ontology" (review of Luce Irigaray, Between East and West: From Singularity to Community), Postmodern Culture (2004).
Graphic Women


 Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists


Ph.D., Rutgers University, 2006. Teaching at Chicago since 2010.