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Dr Mel Gibson

Associate Professor

Department: Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing

Mel specialises in teaching and research relating to children and young people, literature and media and has a huge interest in visual literacies.

 Her interest in these areas led to research about audiences, and also into work on memory and how we build our childhood reading into our autobiographies.

She is also a National Teaching Fellow. This means that Mel is recognised nationally as an expert in Teaching and Learning at university, particularly in relation to large-group work, having developed her skills with the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Assessment for Learning at Northumbria where she worked with Professor Kay Sambell.

Mel is probably best known, however, as one of the small group of academics who established Comics Studies in Britain. Her work on comics and memory is considered internationally significant. She has, additionally, been involved in initiating or supporting the development of a number of initiatives around comics, including the Comics Laureate Award, awarded bi-annually, which involves a comic creator supporting literacy development at national level and Comics Forum, one of the main British academic conferences on comics. She is also involved in comic festivals and other events, both talking about her research and running training on understanding visual literacies and reading for pleasure.

0191 215 6378

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Mel was originally a librarian specialising in work with children and young people. This has fed into her interest in work with memories and audiences as an academic. It also informs her interest in reading for pleasure.

In addition, she is interested in the representation and understanding of challenging issues and concepts in picture books and comics for young readers. Her current focus is on mental health, something reflected in both her teaching and research. She is currently working on the Girl-Kind and B-Kind projects about the use of creative arts, including film and zine making, in support of young people’s understanding of mental health and of their experience of life in the North-East.

She is also engaged with analysing the representation of girls and young women in comics, particularly in relation to activism, feminism and queer girlhoods.

Finally, Mel has recently completed work with Seven Stories: Centre for the Children’s Book on the development and promotion of their first comic exhibition, which focused on British children’s comics past and present. The popularity of the exhibition means it will tour for three years after closing at the centre in June 2018. The creation of this exhibition is related to her interest in championing comics as a medium and celebrating British contributions to its development.


National Teaching Fellowship (2006), Ph.D. (2002), M.A. (1996), BA (Hons)(1993), BLib (Hons) (1984)

Key Publications

The listing below focuses on my publications from 2014 onwards, and those currently in press.

Gibson, M (in press) ‘Yeah. I think there still is hope’. Ms Marvel: youth, ethnicity, faith, feminism and fandom. In Goodrum, M, Prescott, T and Smith, P (eds.) Gender and the Superhero Narrative, University Press of Mississippi.

Gibson, M (in press) ‘One upon a time, there was a very bad rat…’ constructions of childhood, children, animals and comics. In Ahmed, M (ed) Child-Animal Relationships in Comics, University Press of Liège

Gibson, M (in press) ‘It’s all come flooding back’ Memories of childhood comics. In Ahmed, M and Crucifix, B (eds.) Comics Memory: Archives and Styles. Palgrave.

Gibson, M. (in press) ‘Who’s the girl with the kissin’ lips? ’ Constructions of class, popular culture and agentic girlhood in Girl, Princess, Jackie and Bunty in the 1960s. Special Issue on the 1960s. Journal of Film, Fashion and Consumption

Gibson, M (2018) ‘Let’s hear it for the girls! Representations of girlhood, feminism and activism in comics and graphic novels’. MAI: A Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture

Gibson, M (2018) ‘There is no race so wretched that there is not something out there that cares for them’: Multiculturalism, understanding, empathy and prejudice in Discworld. In Rana, M (ed.) Terry Pratchett’s Narrative Worlds. From Giant Turtles to Small Gods. Critical Approaches to Children's Literature Series. Palgrave Macmillan pp. 57-72.

Gibson, M (2016) ‘Comics and Gender’ in Meskin, A, Bramlett, F and Cook, R (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Comics Routledge, pp. 285-293

Gibson, M (2015) Remembered Reading: Memory, Comics and Post-War Constructions of British Girlhood, University of Leuven Press

Gibson, M (2015) ‘We don’t need no steenkin’ badgers’: Bryan Talbot and multiculturalism. In Hague, I & Ayaka, C (eds.) Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels Routledge, pp. 83-95.

Gibson, M (2014) Who does she think she is? Female comic-book characters, second-wave feminism, and feminist film theory.  In Ormrod, J, Gibson, M & Huxley, D (eds.) Superheroes and Identities Routledge, pp. 135-146.


To view my Northumbria Research Link page click here

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