Matthew J. Smith

Dr Matthew J. Smith

Department of Communication, Wittenberg University

Ohio Communication Association (Past President); Eastern Communication Association (Executive Council Representative); National Communication Association (member)

Contact Details


Postal Address: Ward St. at N. Wittenberg Ave., Springfield, OH 45501

Website: (professional)

Biography and Research Interests

Matthew J. Smith is a professor of communication and director of Cinema Studies at Wittenberg University, a liberal arts institution in Springfield, Ohio. At the conclusion of his seven-year tenure as chair, the department received the 2010 Rex Mix Program of Excellence Award, the top honor presented by the Undergraduate College and University Section of the National Communication Association.

Matt specializes in teaching graphic storytelling and has taught a popular course on graphic novels for the past six years. He also leads a summer field study to Comic-Con International, where students study the intersection of fan culture and marketing, and he has taught a specialized course in the works of comics auteur Alan Moore. In addition, he teaches courses in Media Literacy, Critical Methods, and Media Law, and helped develop interdisciplinary minors in Journalism and recently in Cinema Studies. He co-founded the Integrated Media Corps, an on-campus internship experience, and Communication Leaders, a year-long senior leadership development program. In 2009, Wittenberg’s Alumni Association recognized him with its Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s highest award for teaching.

Matt holds a Ph.D. in Communication (1998) and a M.A. in English (1995) from Ohio University, and a bachelor’s degree in English from West Liberty State College (1993). He is co-author of five different books, including most recently Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods (Routledge, 2012)—which was nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award—and The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture (Continuum, 2009), a textbook for the comics studies classroom. His sixth volume, Icons of the American Comic Book, is currently in development. He is a member of the Executive Council of the Eastern Communication Association and immediate past president of the Ohio Communication Association.

His wife Susan is employed by the Air Force Museum Foundation and their twin sons, Trevor and Kent, are third graders and share their dad’s love of comics.

Research interests: Fan studies; Auteur theory (including focuses on Alan Moore, Geoff Johns, and John Byrne); Comics history


Icons of the American Comic Book, R. Duncan, & M. J. Smith (Eds.), (In press). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Press.

‘Byrne, John’; ‘Flash’; and ‘Johns, Geoff’, in Comics through Time by M. K. Booker (Ed.), (In press). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods. Smith, M. J., & Duncan, R. (Eds.). (2012). New York: Routledge.

‘The “Triangle Era” of Superman: Continuity, Marketing, and Grand Narratives in the 1990s’. In J. Darowski (Ed.), Superman through the Ages: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times (2012). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers.

‘Infinite Crisis’, in B. Beaty and S. Weiner (Eds.) Graphic Novels. (2012). Pasadena, CA: Salem Press.

Learning from Film Studies: Analogies and Challenges. Comics Forum. R. Duncan, & M. J. Smith,  (2011).

‘Die tyrannel der schmelztiegle-metapher: Wonder Woman ala amerikanisierte immigrantin’. In B. Eder, E. Klar, & R. Reichert (Eds.) Theorien des comics: Ein reader. (2011). Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript.

‘An appreciation of Harvey Kurtzman’. The Hooded Utilitarian. (2011). Available

Review of Last Son. International Journal of Comic Art, 12.1 (2010), 524-525.

‘Byrne, John’ and ‘Johns, Geoff’. In M. K. Booker (Ed.) Encyclopedia of comics and graphic novels. (2010). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

The Power of Comics: History, Form, and Culture, by R. Duncan, R., & M. J. Smith, (2009). New York: Continuum.

Review of Stan Lee: Conversations. International Journal of Comic Art, 10.1 (2008), 576-578.

Reviewed book manuscript Superman: Our Hero on Earth by Tom DeHaven for Yale University Press, (2008).

Conference Papers and Talks

‘Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods’. Panel presentation at the Comics Arts Conference, San Diego, CA, July 2011, with R. Duncan.

‘Interpreting Comics for Television: Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Comes to Smallville’s Tenth Season’. Presentation at the at the Eastern Communication Association conference, Washington, D.C., April 2011.

‘Comic Books as Communication’. Presentation at the first Communication Week at Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH, 2011.

‘Charting a Course in Comics Art Studies: Communication Scholars’ Contributions to Understanding Graphic Storytelling’. Roundtable presentation at the Eastern Communication Association conference, Baltimore, MD, April 2010.

‘Teaching the College Course in Comics and Graphic Storytelling’. Short course presentation at the National Communication Association conference, Chicago, IL, November 2010, with R. Duncan.

‘Strategies and Resources for Teaching Graphic Novels’. Presentation at the Comic Arts Conference, San Diego, CA, July 2009, with A. R. Hosterman, R. Duncan, & G. Urquhart.

‘Ethnographic Examinations of Comic-Con: Taking Students into the Field’. Paper presented at The Comic Book in Popular Culture Conference, Bowling Green, OH, October 2008.

‘If You Can’t Beat the Internet, Publish on It! Time-Warner’s Zuda Comics and the Question of the Participatory Medium’. Paper presentation at the Eastern Communication Association conference, Pittsburgh, PA, May 2008.


The Experience at Comic-Con. Founder and director of a week-long field study program held in conjunction with Comic-Con International that teaches students about marketing communication through the ethnographic methods. Guest speakers have included Dr. Henry Jenkins of the University of Southern California and Bob Beerbohm of BLB Comics. Summer 2007-present.

Invited as a Discussion Session Facilitator for “Graphic Novel Adaptations Film Festival” at Lakeland Community College Comics Symposium, Kirtland, OH, April 2010 & 2011.

Led discussion for the “Jewish Adventures in the Graphic Novel” five-week series, Fall 2008. Helped secure $2,500 grant from Nextbook and the American Library Foundation.


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