MLA 2015: Roundtable on Comics Theory

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Roundtable Session at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, 8-11 Jan. 2015, in Vancouver. Sponsored by the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives.

In the past three years, a number of new books have been published on comics theory (Postema, Miodrag, Kukkonen, among others). In order to get a better perspective on what is happening in the field, this roundtable has assembled a group of scholars who take different approaches to understanding the comics form. Some of the questions that the roundtable will consider:

* What are the relative merits and drawbacks of some theoretical approaches to comics (i.e. semiotics, film theory, linguistics, visual studies, narrative theory, cognitive theory, Franco-Belgian comics theory, and the ubiquitous Scott McCloud)?

* To what extent are these discourses in conversation with each other?

* Now that many Franco-Belgian works of comics criticism are available in translation—The System of Comics, Comics and Narration by Groensteen, to name two—are we beginning to see a blending of Anglo and French comics theories, or do these seem to be two separate lines of thought?

The scholars will address these questions and others in the context of the roundtable.

Presiding:

Martha Kuhlman, Bryant University

Participants:

Barbara Postema, Ryerson University

Michael Chaney, Dartmouth College

Jared Gardner, Ohio State University

Hugo Frey, University of Chichester

Fabrice Leroy, University of Louisiana Lafayette

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CFP: Immigration and Comics (MLA 2015)

Keppler Joseph

Call for Papers for a proposed panel at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, 8-11 Jan. 2015, in Vancouver. Jointly sponsored by the MLA Division on European Literary Relations and the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives.

Recently, the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration in Paris staged an exhibition “Albums-Bande dessinée et immigration: 1913-2013” (October 16, 2013 – April 27, 2014) which brought together comics sketches and magazines from 1913 to the present that depict the immigrant experience and how immigrants on the fringes of society are attracted to the comics medium.  According to the exhibit’s Curator Hélène Bouillon, “every comic about immigration is a story about an individual, and every comic about this theme wants to show… a story about humanity…a universal story.” In fact, from Richard F. Outcault’s  “The Yellow Kid,” René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s Asterix, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman, William Moulton Marston’s Wonder Woman, Will Eisner’s Fagin the Jew to Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, Ben Katchor’s The Jew of New York, and the works of Marjane Satrapi and the Hernandez Brothers, comics and comics strips have long played a crucial role in representing, constructing, and reifying the immigrant subject and the immigrant experience in the twentieth century.

This panel invites papers that examine how comics from around the world were shaped by the immigrant story, and how they inscribe the immigrant identity and experience. A few questions to consider:

  • How did early comics and comic strips influence and change the ways in which immigrant identities and experiences were formed and disseminated?
  • How did comics in the later 20th century express uncomfortable truths about society’s intolerance for immigrants?
  • In this day and age of the changing face of immigrant literature of the U.S. since 9/11, how have immigration laws, US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the creation of Homeland Security shaped contemporary comics?
  • What is the role of globalization and the transnational subject in immigrant literature?
  • How has the ethnic urban landscape come into play in those graphic narratives depicting the immigrant experience?
  • How have immigrant comics writers and artists inscribed their own history of immigration and migration in their narratives?

Send 200 to 300-word abstracts in .doc or .pdf to Nhora Serrano (nhoraluciaserrano [at] gmail [dot] com) and Sandra Bermann (sandralb [at] Princeton [dot] edu) by 8 March 2014. Submitters will receive notification of results by April 1.

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PLEASE NOTE: This CFP is for a proposed, not guaranteed, session at MLA 2015, which means that the session is contingent on approval by the MLA Program Committee. Though individual submitters will hear from the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives by April 1, the MLA Program Committee will not consider the entire session proposal until after that date. All prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than 7 April 2014.

CFP: Comics and Memory (MLA 2015)

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Call for Papers for a proposed panel at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, 8-11 Jan. 2015, in Vancouver.

Sponsored by the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives

The subject of memory has been central to comics studies.  From Maus and Fun Home to Crisis on Infinite Earths, the capacity of comics to figure and encapsulate the past, whether personal, cultural or historical, has remained a matter of intense critical interest.  We invite all inquiries into the topic of comics and memory, from ongoing discussions of graphic memoirs and mainstream superhero comics to fresh work on any aspect of the medium, or of comics culture.  We encourage consideration of any format of comics from any nation or tradition.

Possible avenues of inquiry:

What does it mean to make a memory visible in comics form?  In what ways is memory recorded by the autobiographical cartoonist?  How is cultural memory encoded on the page in long-running serials?  Do comics have special power to “mediate” intergenerational or collective memories?  How does the medium respond to or transform violent or traumatic memories, whether personal or collective?  What do we learn about false or distorted memory when it is expressed as comics?  What is the fate of memory in “timeless” newspaper strips whose characters do not age, as opposed to strips featuring characters who, like their readers, are marked by the passage of time?  What of the role of childhood comics reading, and recollections thereof, as figured by adult readers and artists?  How is cultural memory archived and distributed within communities of creators and readers?  What kinds of cultural memories are encouraged, or blocked, by contemporary mainstream discourse on comics?

Send 250-word abstracts to Christopher Pizzino (cpizzino [at] uga [dot] edu) by March 10.  Acceptances will be announced by early April.

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PLEASE NOTE:  This CFP is for a proposed, not guaranteed, session at MLA 2015, which means that the session is contingent on approval by the MLA Program Committee.  Responses to individual submissions will be sent out by the beginning of April, but the MLA Program Committee will not consider the entire session proposal until after that date.  All prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than 7 April 2013.

MLA Reception at Chicago Comics this Saturday!

Chicago Comics (photo from The Cool Kids Table, 2 May 2010)

MLA Comics Reception
Chicago Comics
Saturday, Jan. 11th, at 7:30 p.m.
3244 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60657

We are delighted to announce that Chicago Comics—one of the Windy City’s oldest comics shops, and one of the country’s most respected—will be hosting our Group, and indeed anyone from MLA with an interest in comics, at a reception this Saturday, Jan. 11th, starting at 7:30 p.m.!

That’s right—an informal get-together, with drinks and snacks, just for comics scholars at the MLA, hosted by Chicago Comics. Comics creators from the Chicago area will be on hand to mix and mingle and talk about their work! Do come.

This event is free, and open to any and all from MLA with an interest in the art of comics.

Chicago Comics is an exemplary comics shop, famed throughout the US (and farther) for the breadth of its inventory and the depth of its commitment to the medium. We are proud to be in such good company! Our thanks to Eric and all at Chicago Comics for making this happen.

Directions: Chicago Comics is in the Lakeview neighborhood at 3244 N. Clark St., about 3 to 4 miles north of the MLA convention site. Drive north on Lake Shore Drive and exit at Belmont; left on Belmont, right on Clark. Or take the CTA Red Line to the Belmont station.

The reception starts around 7:30 and will go for a good hour or two. Please invite your friends and colleagues to come! Feel free to drop questions about the event on this blog.

Chicago Comics logo by Lilli Carré

MLA 2014—Cash Bar with Children’s Literature

Yes, a collaborative cash bar and reception! This our official Friday night social event for the MLA 2014 Convention, to be held next weekend in Chicago. Think of it as a convivial complement to our three academic panels! Details follow:

Spinner rack from the days of yore, from blog.comicspriceguide.com (photographer unknown)

Session 428. Cash Bar Arranged by the Division on Children’s Literature and the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives

Friday, 10 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Grand I, Chicago Marriott

Please join us and our colleagues in the Children’s Literature Division for this informal get-together! It’s a rare opportunity for our groups to get to know each other and talk about the intersection of our fields!

As always, we in the Comics Group are eager to meet with everyone at MLA who is interested in comics studies. Members of our Executive Committee will be on hand to chat about our future plans, ideas for programming and community-building, and the further growth of comics studies both at the MLA and across academia—including opportunities for further collaboration between comics and children’s literature studies! We invite your input, and hope to connect with you. If you’re at MLA, please do come!

Peanuts, by Charles Schulz, 22 June 1952 (scan from http://www.dograt.com)

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