John Jennings
Associate Professor
Graphic Design

jayjay@illinois.edu | website | CV

Teaching areas:

Design History, Image making, Visual Literacy, Black Visual Culture Studies

Research areas:

Visual Culture studies, Black Visual Culture, Design History, Design Pedagogy, Comics and Sequential art


BA Commercial Art/Drawing, Jackson State University, 1993, MFA Art Education, UIUC, 1995, MFA Graphic Design, UIUC, 1997

John Jennings is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research and teaching focus on the analysis, explication, and disruption of African American stereotypes in popular visual media. His research is concerned with the topics of representation and authenticity, visual culture, visual literacy, social justice, and design pedagogy. He is an accomplished designer, curator, illustrator, cartoonist,and award-winning graphic novelist. His work overlaps into various disciplines including American Studies, African American Studies, Design History, Media Studies, Sociology, Women and Gender Studies, and Literature.

Selected Work

  • Jennings, John. “The Sequential Narrative: Stories in Practice,” in Drawing Ideas: A Practical Guide for Visualizing Thinking. edited by Editor William Bardel and Mark Baskinger, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA. Spring. 2010
  • Jennings, John and Duffy, Damian. Black Comix: African American Independent Comics and Culture. New York, NY. Mark Batty Publisher/Random House. 2010
  • Jennings, John. “The Chance Project” Brown v. Board Celebration Volume, O’Brien, David ed., Champaign, IL. University of Illinois Press. 2009
  • Duffy, Damian and Jennings, John. The Hole: Consumer Culture,vol.1. Chicago, IL: Front Forty Press, Distributor: University of Chicago Press. 2008
  • Jennings, John. “Dezyne Klass: Exploring the Visual Communication In Hip Hop Culture” Design Research: Designing Culture, Bennett, Audrey, ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. 2007

Selected Lectures/Presentations

  • The Voodoo of the Metapicture. American Comparative Literature Association National Conference, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. 2009
  • Steel Hard Skin: The African American Body Politic. Black Visual Culture Speaker Series, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. 2009
  • Drawing the Line: A Symposium on Comics and Social Change, Haverford College, Haverford, PA. 2009.
  • Ethics of the Designer in a Global Economy (EDGE): A Course on Ethics, Diversity and Social and Environmental Sustainability (with Prof. Eric Benson), The London College of Communication, London, England. 2008
  • The Abyss Gazes Also: Signifying the Hole and Repossessing Consumer Culture , Fine Print: Alternative Media at P.S.1 Presents: Front Forty Press . P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. Long Island City, NY. (with reading from the graphic novel The Hole: Consumer Culture). 2007
  • Trees You Can’t Climb, Video Conference Presentation, Department of English and Literature, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. 2007