Elizabeth (Biz) Nijdam joined the department in Fall 2009 after spending two years in Japan. She finished her BA in German Studies and History of Art at the University of Victoria in 2005, where she also completed her Masters in German Studies in 2007.
Since arriving at the University of Michigan, Biz’s research interests have diversified. Working also in History of Art, she completed three years of course work (which included an additional year of art history course work) before pursuing an extended set of preliminary examines bridging the disciplines. With two teaching fields in modern German design and postwar German painting and her research field in Comics Studies, Biz developed the tools of visual and literary analysis required to pursue an interdisciplinary dissertation project on post-unification German comics. Her dissertation investigates the role of East German artistic and political traditions in the reinvention of German-speaking comics after 1989 through the work of three comics collectives, PGH Gluhende Zukunft (1989-1993), Renate (1989-) and monogatari (1999-2005). Focusing on the work of Henning Wagenbreth and Anke Feuchtenberger, her dissertation illustrates that East German artistic traditions were not always subjugated to western capitalist modes of production after 1989 and that East German artists, trained under the doctrines of socialist realism, nourished by socialist notions of public art and engaged in traditional printmaking techniques obsolete in West German art academies, radically altered aspects of the united German cultural landscape to produce an independent art comics scene that broadened the aesthetics of the medium, changed public opinion on the legitimacy of comics and remains influential today.
In addition to pursuing her research in Comics Studies, Biz has integrated comics into her teaching and designed two courses (German 232, English 125) that exclusively use comics to teach the course material. She has presented on comics and comics pedagogy at various conferences across the North American continent, including the ACLA (2011), MLA (2012), BUGSC (2014), GSA (2014), International Comic Arts Forum (2014), NEMLA (2015) and the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics conference (2015), and has put together a panel entitled “Graphic Novel Pedagogy” for the upcoming 2015 GSA. She also has a chapter on teaching history with comics coming out in Matthew Miller’s edited volume Graphic Novel Pedagogy and an article currently under review for the International Journal of Comic Art. Lastly, she is a Member-at-Large on the Executive Board for the American Comics Studies Society’s Graduate Student Caucus and is currently running for the Executive Committee for the International Comic Arts Forum.
- “Teaching Germany History with the Graphic Novel." Graphic Novel Pedagogy. Jefferson: McFarland Press, in press.
- “German Comics after Unification: The Politics of Anke Feuchtenberger’s Feminist Aesthetics.” (under review with the International Journal of Comic Art)
- "Rock statt Marx: Rock and Roll Narratives in Leander Haußmann's Sonnenallee." German as a Foreign Language 3 (2010): 1-20.