The Past as Popular Culture: Interpreting History through Graphic Novels

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This chapter presents an overview of the development of historical narratives combining visual and textual elements in comic strips and graphic novels. History comics developed strongly during the 1940s and 1950s and became popular, in particular among young readers in Western Europe and North America. Having gained increased cultural respectability, comics more recently also obtained an adult audience. Two internationally renowned educational comics from the Anne Frank House, published in the first decade of the twenty-first century, illustrate how comics are nowadays capable of representing sensitive topics from recent history, in particular World War II and the Holocaust. Yet, combining fact and fiction requires a balanced way of (re)presenting, involving discussions among historians and others on what may be possible and desirable in this specific war of making history public.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Public History
EditorsJames B. Gardner, Paula Hamilton
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780190673789
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press


  • public history
  • Comics
  • popular culture
  • graphic novel
  • Holocaust


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