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This panel, moderated by Brian Fies, focuses on comics and AIDS.
The first speaker is Ariela Freedman. She is an Associate Professor at the Liberal Arts College, Concordia University, Montreal. She writes on modernism, First World War narrative, and comics. She is the author of Death, Men and Modernism (Routledge: 2003) and many scholarly articles, and is currently working on a project on comics and representations of pain. Her paper, Picturing AIDS,
“examines early strategies of picturing AIDS in comics at the height of the American crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, alongside a more recent graphic memoir which engages with AIDS more indirectly: Frederik Peeters’Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story. This more recent reflection on HIV not only reflects the change in treatment through which HIV is no longer “a killer on the loose,” as the AMFAR sponsored comic would have it, but a chronic, managed condition; it also filters a shift in representation in which the HIV carrier is not doomed or even defined by the virus.”
The second speaker is Julia diLiberti. She holds a Ph.D. in French Literature; she is a Professor of Humanities at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois where she chairs the Africa and African Diaspora Committee. Her current research focuses on Belgian and American comics, but she is fascinated by the intersection of comics and most other domains. Her sabbatical trip to Gabon in March 2011 led to her discovery of Fargas and has turned her attention to Yannick Dombi and AIDS education. About her paper, Conquering AIDS: The Adventures of Yannick Dombi, she summarizes,
“In his stories of Yannick Dombi, Fargas communicates the realities of AIDS with a combination of day-to-day situations and fast-paced adventure to educate and engage readers about the disease, its prevention, and how to live with it if HIV positive. In the context of Gabonese families taking us through various social dangers of AIDS, the horror of “folk” remedies, random cures, and prejudices held about those with AIDS, this presentation will explore the varied and many strategies of AIDS education used by Fargas, a doctor working in collaboration with a non-profit medical and research organization.”