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New Exhibit in Special Collections: Wordless Novels

Before there were graphic novels, Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward, two artists working in and around the German Expressionist movement, translated their interest in the medieval woodcut into a new genre. Their works, generally referred to today as woodcut novels, often carry a political or social message and deal with the hardships faced by the oppressed, the working class, and the poor. Masereel and Ward are often cited by scholars as fathers of the graphic novel movement that started in the 1970s and 1980s with the work of Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, and others.

The current display in Special Collections features three woodcut novels: Die Passion Eines Menschen, an influential work by Masereel, as well as Destiny by Otto Nückel (1930) and Southern Cross by Laurence Hyde (1951). These materials will be on view through January 2023.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.