Clemson English Department Welcomes Donald Duck Expert
The English Unbound team is excited to highlight Peter Bryan! Bryan is one of the foremost Donald Duck experts in America right now. His scholarship and research have focused on the translation of Donald Duck into German in the Cold War era. Bryan’s first book, “Creation, Translation, and Adaptation in Donald Duck Comics: The Dream of Three Lifetimes” was recently published in May of 2021.
“I didn’t plan to be the Donald Duck guy when I started my graduate studies but sort of ended up there,” Bryan said. “But I’m happy to answer any questions about Donald Duck to the best of my ability.”
Bryan received his undergraduate degrees in English and history from Western Michigan University before continuing his studies at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Masters and PhD. Bryan spent the first years of his career as a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and then York University. He is excited about his transition to Clemson’s campus, and this is his first semester teaching on a campus of this scale and size. Bryan was attracted to the makeup of Clemson’s English Department, its interdisciplinary focus and connections with other University departments.
“It feels like a place where someone like me, who does comics and adaptation studies, can find more of a home,” Bryan said.
This semester, Bryan is teaching 20th- and 21st-century literature based around comics, specifically Marvel’s Hawkeye. The character of Clint Barton, better known as Hawkeye, is a member of the Avengers and is a master of archery. This comics-based class is called “Comics as Literature”, and their class discussions are more about the form and function of comics and storytelling. The students have conversations on why authors write these superhero stories and why they’re so popular — superhero movies and adaptations of comics are the most popular movies of the 21st-century so far. The trailer for the upcoming Marvel adaptation of Hawkeye was released in September of 2021, which was exciting for both Bryan and his students.
Bryan is also teaching a science fiction course this semester, focusing on the future and at the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a genre, science fiction focuses on the effects of technological and scientific advancements on society and the future. In this class, Bryan and his students are taking these genre characteristics and applying them to how the pandemic will affect the future. Bryan shared that he tries to structure the class around discussion and let the students direct the conversations.
“I’ll ask a few leading questions and then we sort of go from there and talk about how our readings fit together and what these stories tell us about the world in which we live in and how we navigate it,” Bryan said.
Bryan is also excited to be a part of the campus and culture. Though he has mostly been getting to know others within the English department, he is looking forward to getting a better sense of what’s around the Clemson area. One thing that has already piqued his interest is local radio station WSBF-FM, which is completely student-run and the DJs are all Clemson students.
“It takes me back to my time as a late-night DJ during my undergraduate years. It’s nice to have that sense of community again,” Bryan said.
Bryan is a welcome addition to Clemson’s campus and is excited to get more involved and collaborate with other professors both within and outside the English department. And, if you ever see him around campus, don’t be afraid to ask any Donald Duck questions you might have.
Written by: Olivia Hanline