Graphic Historiography: Comics and/on the Writing of History

Wednesday May 18, 2022
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Dr. Biz Nijdam will be presenting research from her book project at Cardiff University on May 18, 2022 as part of the School of Modern Languages’ History and Heritage research theme.

See the event description and information on registering for this Zoom Webinar on Cardiff University’s website:


In 2009, for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, three graphic novels were published narrating histories of the German Democratic Republic (GDR): Simon Schwartz’s drüben!, Claire Lenkova’s Grenzgebiete, and Flix’s (Felix Görmann) Da war mal was… (2009). Directed at the generation of young adults who witnessed the collapse of the GDR but were too young to understand the complexity of their country’s divide, these comics recounted the experience of living in East Germany through the eyes of the children that grew up there. However, as more graphic novels thematizing GDR history began to appear, what started as a commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2009 quickly turned into a trend in the representation of East German experience.

Among these fiction and nonfiction comics on East German history, there is a subgroup of graphic novels that explicitly seeks to engage with more traditional forms of narrating history, such as documentary photography, archival collections, and museum exhibition. These graphic historiographies not only adopt some of the strategies of these institutional forms of memory culture, but they also comment on the way in which history and memory is shaped through them.

This presentation looks at two comics on East German history as case studies to demonstrate how graphic historiography reveals the essential processes of historical writing while intervening in debates on historical truth and authenticity.