Nick Sousanis

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Nick Sousanis
Nick Sousanis 2015.jpg
Sousanis at the 2015 Texas Book Festival.
Walter Nickell Sousanis

EducationB.A., Western Michigan University
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
OccupationCartoonist, scholar, teacher, art critic

Walter Nickell (Nick) Sousanis is a scholar, art critic, and cartoonist; a co-founder of the, he is also the first person at Columbia University to write a dissertation entirely in a comic book format.[1][2]

Sousanis believes that comics are powerful teaching tools[3] and has developed courses on comics at Teachers College and Parsons.[4] In addition to his classroom teaching, Sousanis' artwork has been exhibited in such venues as Microsoft Research in Seattle.[5] He publishes articles on teaching with comics in the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy and other venues.[6] In addition to publishing, Sousanis has spoken at symposiums and conferences around the world.[7] The noteworthiness of Sousanis' contribution to the field of academics has been discussed in Inside Higher Ed[8] and The Chronicle of Higher Education.[9]


A former professional tennis player and instructor, Sousanis majored in mathematics at Western Michigan University.[10]

Sousanis and his brother John Sousanis co-founded in October 2002, where he served as Editor in Chief.[11] He also contributed arts coverage for the Detroit Metro Times.[12] He became the biographer of legendary Detroit artist Charles McGee.[13]

While he was living in Detroit, Sousanis' own artwork appeared in a number of shows in the Detroit area, including a billboard for the Ferndale, Michigan Public Art Project.[14] and he served as a board member and, for a period, the chairman of the non-profit arts organization Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID).[15] In recognition of his accomplishments in the arts community of Southeastern Michigan, Sousanis was selected as one of Crain's Detroit Business's "40 under 40" for 2006.[16][17] In 2007, Sousanis was appointed the founding Director of Exhibitions for Work @ Detroit,[18][19] an exhibition space in Detroit operated by the University of Michigan School of Art & Design.

In early 2008, Sousanis moved from Detroit to New York City to pursue a Doctorate of Education in Interdisciplinary Studies at Columbia University's Teachers College.[20] At that point was sold to the YMCA.[18]

In 2011, Sousanis organized the 2011 Game Show NYC.[21] Talks were given by Maxine Greene, Tony Wagner, Fred Goodman, and Donald Brinkman at the concurrent conference for Creativity, Play, and Imagination Across Disciplines.[22]

Sousanis defended his dissertation, titled "Unflattening: A Visual-Verbal Inquiry into Learning in Many Dimension," at Teachers College, Columbia University in May 2014.[23] His dissertation was published by Harvard University Press in April 2015 as Unflattening;[24] the New York Times called it:

a genuine oddity, a philosophical treatise in comics form. 'Flatness,' for Sousanis's purposes, is not the quality of abstraction that Clement Greenberg lauded in modern art, but the lamentable condition of the inhabitants of Edwin A. Abbott's 'Flatland': the inability to understand that there might be more than one can immediately perceive. The solution he proposes is admitting visual elements, and especially drawings, into the intellectual domain of language. (Psst — he's talking about comics!)"[25]

Unflattening won the 2015 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, taking top honor as book of the year.[26]

In 2015, Sousanis accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary, where he teaches about comics.[27] In Fall 2016, joined the School of Humanities and Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University as an Assistant Professor.[28]

In 2018, Sousanis won the Eisner Award for best short story for writing "A Life in Comics: The Graphic Adventures of Karen Green".[29]


  1. ^ "Unflattening: A Dissertation in Comics Form Reimagines Scholarship". UCLA Digital Humanities. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Unflattening: How a Dissertation in Comics Form Reimagined Scholarship and Academic Writing". Department of English, Princeton University. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  3. ^ booksadventures (28 June 2013). "Unflattening: Thinking Through Comics, Nick Sousanis at Microsoft Research". MIT Center for Civic Media. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  4. ^ Culbertson, Hilary (16 January 2014). "Teaching with Comics: Nick Sousanis' Comics Classroom". HASTAC. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  5. ^ Matias, J. Nathan (14 June 2012). "Comics in the Classroom Guest Post: Nick Sousanis of Teachers College, New York". The Signal in Transition. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  6. ^ Sousanis, Nick (2014), "Threads: A Spinning Fable", Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 11 (2): 102–106, doi:10.1080/15505170.2014.893216
  7. ^ Sousanis, Nick (2015). "About". Spin Weave and Cut. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  8. ^ Mulhere, Kaitlin (17 March 2015). "Seeing in New Dimensions". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  9. ^ Dunn, Sydni (28 Feb 2014). "The Amazing Adventures of the Comic-Book Dissertator". Vitae, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Nick Sousanis". Zoom Info. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Nick Sousanis". Sauve Art Foundation. nd. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  12. ^ Carducci, Vince (14 June 2006). "Play right". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  13. ^ Sousanis, Nick (19 September 2014). "Charles McGee at 90: Mongerson Gallery Chicago Exhibition Essay". HASTAC. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  14. ^ "The Detroiter's Own Nick Sousanis Does a Ferndale Driveby!". April 2004. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Nick Sousanis". Imagining America. nd. Archived from the original on 2013-10-16. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Meet Crain's 40 Under 40, Class of 2006". Wayne State University Public Relations. 25 September 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  17. ^ Shea, Bill (25 September 2006), "40 Under 40: Nick Sousanis, 33", Crain's Detroit Business, 22 (39): 26
  18. ^ a b Voss, Elizabeth H. (20 June 2008). "YMCA buys". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  19. ^ Kantrowitz (23 October 2013). "Thursday Presenters". International Drawing and Cognition Research. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  20. ^ Mitter, Siddhartha (27 February 2012), "Student Profile: Sketches of an Educator", Inside, 17 (4)
  21. ^ "Game Show NYC 2011". Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  22. ^ Hoelzle, Liz (1 March 2011). "Creativity, Play, and the Imagination Across Disciplines". The Department of Arts & Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  23. ^ Davidson, Cathy N. (28 August 2014). "What Is a Dissertation? New Models, Methods, Media". HASTAC. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Unflattening". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  25. ^ Wolk, Douglas. "Comics: Nick Sousanis’s "Unflattening," Drawn and Quarterly’s celebration of 25 years and more,"New York Times Book Review (May 29, 2015).
  26. ^ "Penn State announces winner of the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year - Penn State University".
  27. ^ "Walter (Nick) Sousanis". Department of English, University of Calgary. nd. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  28. ^ "Walter (Nick) Sousanis". School of Humanities and Liberal Studies, SFSU. nd. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  29. ^ "Eisner Awards Current Info". 17 December 2014.

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