various images and covers: High Desert, I Was Their American Dream, Blue Beetle

CCS 235 - Comics and Race

Comic books, superheroes, and the media flowing out from the narratives around them are one the most enduring, prominent, and exciting elements of our culture in both contemporary, and historical terms, with the last 20 years bringing exceptional attention and new energy to the role of comics in our lives. Yet since their inception, the Chicana/o/Mexican American community, as well as historically marginalized communities generally, have had a complicated relationship to comics, and how race, racial identities, racism, and political ideologies related to inclusion and Othering are represented in these media.

“Comics and Race” examines the representations of race, ethnicity, culture, and racialization in comics and comic media. Specifically, we will give comics their due respect, positioning them as literature and meaningful cultural contributors, and undertaking literary and social analysis of these texts as racial narratives intersecting with historical and contemporary sociopolitical tensions in our contemporary lives. By the end of the course, we can expect to have a strong grasp of what representing race, racism, ethnicity, and culture mean in the context of comics and beyond, and an appreciation for the implications to power and positioning that come from how comics and popular media shape the narratives we see as normal and familiar, and the ideologies we embrace, question, or critique.

Course Materials


Project Textual Analysis 

About the Course Designer


Michael Domínguez, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Chicana/o Studies Department at San Diego State University. Previously a middle school teacher in Nevada (where he regularly used comics as part of his literacy and ESL curriculum), Dr. Domínguez’ teaching and research focuses on the affective experiences of historically marginalized youth, the possibilities and tensions of ethnic studies in K-12 schools, and how decolonial frameworks can transform teacher education praxis. As SDSU, he leads the Center for K-12 Ethnic Studies Education, and his current community-based partnerships include ethnic studies teacher support partnerships, and an ethnographic study of pedagogy in athletic spaces. His work has been published widely, and a co-authored book, Decolonizing Middle Grades Literacy, was released in 2023.

Read Michael's blog post about the course.