Spanish Professor Wins Fellowship to Study Graphic Novels on Illness

book cover of Spanish language graphic novel Alicia en un mundo real / Alice in the Real World
Alicia en un mundo real (Alice in the Real World), a graphic novel about a woman with cancer.
Diana Aramburu
Diana Aramburu

For an investigation into comics and graphic novels that address illness, Diana Aramburu, an assistant professor of Spanish, has received a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship.

Aramburu will use the award to research and write Between Bodies: Illness and Transformation in Women’s Graphic Narratives in Spain. Graphic narratives on illness and treatment are growing in use around the world, said Aramburu, who joined the UC Davis College of Letters and Science's Department of Spanish and Portuguese in 2016.

She discovered the medically oriented books when her mother and her grandfather were ill.

“They opened up a whole new line of inquiry,” she said.

Her research will examine how the comics and graphic novels present the relationship between women and their bodies during illness. She will focus on books related to diseases that primarily affect women, such as breast cancer and bulimia, and the “medicalization” of menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.

Aramburu also recently received the Award for Excellence in Service to Graduate Students from the UC Davis Graduate Student Association.

Her book Resisting Invisibility: Detecting the Female Body in Spanish Crime Fiction will be released later this year.

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the College of Letters and Science