Joe Sutliff Sanders

Dr Joe Sutliff Sanders

English Department, Kansas State University (USA)

Extrapolation, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

Children’s Literature Association

Contact Details

Email: joess (at)

Telephone: 785-532-2173

Postal Address: Dept of English, 108 English & Counseling Services Bldg, Manhattan, KS 66506-6501, USA

Website: (university staff page)

Biography and Research Interests

Joe Sutliff Sanders is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate track of the English Department at Kansas State University.  His interest in comics, though, predates his interest in children’s literature, so his early publications on comics had more to do with theories of and sexuality in comics than with comics as an art form for children.  His recent work on comics has focused on theorizing the form of comics in ways that are not purely formal.  Thus, his work on Urasawa looks into the odd audience relationship developed through dramatic irony; his work on Hergé thinks through the consequences of layout for critical engagement; his work on comics for mobile devices picks at truisms about empowered readers; and his work on the fundamental similarities and differences between comics and picture books advance a theory of how readers, words, and images combine to make meaning in ways that underwrite adult/child power structures.

Sanders is the author of Disciplining Girls:  Understanding the Origins of the Classic Orphan Girl Story and the co-editor of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden:  A Children’s Classic at 100.

Sanders is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to Luxembourg, and he will spend much of his time during the fellowship researching Occupation-Era Hergé.  He is also the recipient of an N.E.H. fellowship to study children’s nonfiction.  He is the graphic novels review columnist for Teacher Librarian, an international journal for school librarians.  He has been invited to give lectures around the world, including London, Wroclaw (Poland), New York City, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Research interests: Comics, graphic novels, manga, Hergé, Urasawa, critical engagement, fantasy, science fiction, girls’ fiction, picture books.


Disciplining Girls:  Understanding the Origins of the Classic Orphan Girl Story.  Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

Horne, Jackie and Joe Sutliff Sanders, eds.  Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden:  A Children’s Classic at 100.  Lanham, MD:  Scarecrow Press, 2011.

“Adapting Osama Tezuka and the Pleasures of Dramatic Irony.”  Never-Ending Stories:  Adapting Classic Children’s Texts.  Expected publication 2012.  Gent, Belgium:  Academia Press.

“Valentine, Mobile Comics, and Participatory Readers.”  Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin (special issue on comics and graphic novels).  Expected publication 2013.

“Theorizing Sexuality in Comics.”  The Rise of the American Comics Artist:  Creators and Contexts.  Ed. Paul Williams and James Lyons.  2010.  Jackson:  UP of Mississippi.  150-163.

“Comics Studies 101.”  The Science Fiction Research Association Review.  284 (2008):  4-7.

“Lesbian Language, Queer Imaginings, and Death:  the Time of Your Life.”  The Sandman Papers.  2006.  Seattle:  Fantagraphics Books.  185-96.

Conference Papers and Talks

“Chaperoning Words:  The Ideological Differences that Shape Comics and Picture Books.”  Roehampton University, London.  September 17, 2012.

“The End, Middle, and Beginning of the Reys’ Escape from Paris.”  Funded by the Kansas Humanities Council.  I gave this presentation on two important figures from children’s literature and their escape from the Nazis at the Memorial Library and Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, KS on August 8, 2011.

“The Possibilities and Challenges of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning.”  I was the scholar-in-residence from May 28-June 3, 2011 at the University of Wroclaw and the Philological School of Higher Education in Wroclaw, Poland, speaking about online education and current research on collaborative learning.

“Risking Comics.”  6th annual Celebration of Teaching & Learning.  Sponsored by New York City’s Public Television Station, Channel Thirteen.  New York City, March 2011.

“From Woman’s Fiction to Girls’ Series.”  University of North Carolina at Greensboro, February 2010.

“Reading Satrapi in Los Angeles.”  California State University at Los Angeles, November 2009.

“Assumptions of the Innocent:  Marketing and Manipulation in Children’s Comics.”  San Diego State University, October 2009.

“A Girl’s Right to Privacy in the Shadow of Sentimentalism.”  Buffalo State College (lecture series on social justice), March 2009.

“Writing Comics and Graphic Novels.”  The Buffalo Rooftop Poetry Club, March 2009.

“A Home-Grown History of Comics:  Using Pfau Library’s Special Collections to Tell the Story of Comics.”  Pfaul Library, California SU – San Bernardino, March 2009.

“The History of the Graphic Novels Industry.”  The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  Bloomington, IL, May 2006.


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