Personal profile


Cassia Hayward-Fitch is a PhD student in American Studies at the University of East Anglia. Her research focuses on comics cultures, LGBTQ+ communities, and media reception. 

She is the 2023 recipient of the International Comic Arts Forum's John A. Lent Scholarship in Comics Studies for her paper, "'What’s funny about AIDS?': How Howard Cruse's Wendel Confronted a Crisis". As part of winning this award, the paper was published. It can be found in the International Journal of Comic Art, vol. 25, No.1, Spring/Summer 2023, pp.280-299.

Her thesis, “Drawn this Gay: Queer Community Activism in the Serial Comics of Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse”, uses archival material to show how American queer newspaper comic strips from the 1980s and ‘90s acted as communal spaces, making specific reference to Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For and Howard Cruse’s Wendel. This project is a continuation of her MA thesis, for which she was awarded the University College London John Hobbes Memorial Prize.  

Her research is funded by the University of East Anglia Doctoral Studentship, Faculty of Arts and Humanities. 

Cassia taught on the module LGBT and Beyond in the academic year 2023-2024.

She has presented at multiple conferences in the UK, USA, and Canada, including the MLA conference in San Francisco in January 2023 and, most recently, the Comics Forum in Leeds in November 2023. 

Academic Background

Doctor of Philosophy in Art, Media and American Studies | University of East Anglia, UK | 2021 - Present

Provisional Thesis Title: "I Was Drawn This Gay: Queer community activism in the serial comics of Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse"


Master of Arts in Linguistics Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium | 2020-2021

Grade: Distinction

Dissertation Title: "'There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about' a corpus study on the use of LGBTQ+ language across two UK publications - The Guardian and The Daily Mail - from 2000 to 2020"

Master of Arts in "Interests in Modern Culture", literature from 1870 to the present | University College London, UK | 2019-2020

Grade: Distinction

Award: John Hobbes Memorial Prize for best dissertation 

Dissertation Title: "Drawn to Women: Lesbian Community Ties in Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For"
Bachelor of Arts in English and American Literature | University of Kent, UK | 2016-2019
Grade: First Class Honours

Key Research Interests

Comics, Queer Theory, LGBTQ+ Literature, Reception Theory, Discourse Analysis, Cultural Studies.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Master of Arts, University College London


Bachelor of Arts, University of Kent



  • English literature
  • Comic Books
  • Gender Studies
  • Print media
  • Feminist Media Studies