Gwen Athene Tarbox

Photo of Gwen Athene Tarbox
Gwen Athene Tarbox
Professor of English
(269) 387-2589
(269) 387-2562
626 Sprau Tower, Mail Stop 5331
Mailing address: 
Department of English
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5331 USA
  • Ph.D., American Literature, Purdue University, 1997
  • M.A., American Literature, Purdue University, 1992
  • M.A., Modern Literature, University of London, 1985
  • B.A., English and Political Science, University of Michigan-Flint, 1983
Teaching interests: 
  • Comics studies
  • Children's and YA literature
  • American culture and life; popular culture
  • Artificial Intelligence
Research interests: 
  • Comics studies
  • Popular culture

I joined the Department of English at Western Michigan University in 1999, and I currently serve as the Director of the Office of Faculty Development within WMUx, the university’s innovation hub. As part of that work, I have been instrumental in providing support on the implications of Generative AI for higher education.

My teaching focuses on the cultural context and formal properties of texts written, drawn, or filmed since the 1920s, with a current emphasis on visual rhetoric and urbanism. Recent courses include New York City as Place and Text (Summer 2023); Introduction to Comics Studies (Summer 2022); Political Activism in Contemporary Texts (Summer 2021); Disney+ (Summer 2020); and Immigrant and Refugee Comics (Spring 2020).

My current research involves considering how the formal elements of comics such as line style, color, figural placement, and repetition impact meaning. Since 2016, I have published a monograph (Children’s and YA Comics, Bloomsbury, 2020), a co-edited collected with Dr. Michelle Ann Abate (Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults, U Press of Mississippi, 2017), and several articles, including: