We, the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives, are proud to announce our sessions for the 127th Annual MLA Convention, to be held 5-8 January 2012 in Seattle, Washington. See below for the lineup in brief—or click here to read the full abstracts for all sessions!

Besides the sessions we’re sponsoring, there will be several others in Seattle dedicated to comics. Comics studies activity within the MLA, to our continuing delight, keeps growing! We’ll identify these in a future post. Please bookmark this blog and check in the weeks to come, as the Seattle meeting draws nearer!

Note: Only a limited number of MLA sessions are open to the general public (see the MLA website here). That does not include the sessions below, which are open only to registered participants in the convention. For more information about the convention, including registration costs, see the homepage for MLA 2012.

Amazing Fantasy 15 (Aug. 1962), cover drawn by Jack KirbyAmazing Spider-Man 655 (April 2011), cover drawn by Marcos Martin

The Material History of Spider-Man: A 50th Anniversary Observance

Friday, 6 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Room 606, Washington State Convention Center

Presiding: Jonathan W. Gray, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

  1. “Written in the Body: Spider-Man, Venom, and the Specter of Biopower,” Ben Bolling, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  2. “Out of Character: Traces of the Real Spider-Man,” Samantha Close, UC Irvine
  3. “Tangled Web: Spider-Man’s Discontinuous Continuity,” Charles Hatfield, CSU Northridge

Respondent: Danny Fingeroth, New York, NY

Dog Head (Seattle Sun ad) by Lynda Barry (1979)Roberta Gregory's Naughty Bits 14 (Oct. 1994)Charles Burns' Black Hole (2005)

How Seattle Changed Comics

Saturday, 7 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Room 303, Washington State Convention Center

Presiding: TBA

  1. Ernie Pook and the Emerald City: Lynda Barry’s Seattle,” Susan E. Kirtley, UMass Lowell
  2. “Underground Aesthetics Turned Alternative Critique: Reconsidering Roberta Gregory’s Naughty Bits,” JoAnne Ruvoli, UCLA
  3. “Serial Trauma: Awaiting Charles Burns’s X’ed Out,” Christopher Pizzino, U of Georgia

Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen (1970)Posy Simmonds' Lulu and the Flying Babies (1988)

Why Comics Are and Are Not Picture Books

Session jointly arranged by the MLA Division on Children’s Literature and the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives

Saturday, 7 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., Room 303, Washington State Convention Center

Presiding: Charles Hatfield, CSU Northridge; Craig Svonkin, Metropolitan State College of Denver

  1. “Picture Book Guy Looks at Comics: Structural Differences in Two Kinds of Visual Narrative,” Perry Nodelman, U of Winnipeg
  2. “Not Genres but Modes of Graphic Narrative: Comics and Picture Books,” Philip Nel, Kansas StateU
  3. “Graphic Novels’ Assault upon the Republic of Reading,” Michael Joseph, Rutgers, New Brunswick
  4. “The Panel as Page and the Page as Panel: Uncle Shelby and the Case of the Twin ABZ Books,” Joseph Terry Thomas, Jr., San Diego State U