In addition to the three sessions sponsored by our Discussion Group (i.e. the Comics and Graphic Narratives Group), MLA 2012 will be hosting many other events relevant to comics studies. In fact, the program shows that the MLA’s interest in comics and graphic narratives is at an all-time high. The amount of work being done on comics within the MLA now is startling to those who remember leaner, hungrier times—it’s a veritable groundswell!

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to search for the subjects comics or graphic narratives in the MLA’s searchable online program. So, to spread the word about this groundswell, we of the Comics and Graphic Narratives Group offer the following list of comics studies events at MLA 2012 other than our own.

The following panels are either clearly dedicated to or show a substantial interest (i.e., more than one paper’s worth) in graphic narrative. Some of them are “special,” i.e. independent, ad hoc, sessions, while others are sponsored by standing MLA Divisions or Discussion Groups. Of course there are some schedule conflicts among them (sigh):

95. The Graphic Novel in Latin America

Thursday, 5 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., University Room, Sheraton Seattle

Program arranged by the Division on Twentieth-Century Latin American Literature

Presiding: Hilda Chacón, Nazareth College of Rochester

  1. “Criminal Melodrama and Hypertrophic Gesture in ¡Alarma! and ¡Casos de Alarma!,” Sergio Delgado, Harvard U.
  2. La grabadora: En busca de una historia alternativa,” Javier Gonzalez, U. of Colorado, Boulder
  3. Rupay, the Photojournalistic Archive, and the Sendero War,” Kent L. Dickson, California State Polytechnic U., Pomona

181. Graphic Narratives Retelling History: Germany

Friday, 6 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., University Room, Sheraton Seattle

Program arranged by the Division on Slavic and East European Literatures and the Division on European Literary Relations

Presiding: Ema Vyroubalova, Trinity Coll., Dublin

  1. “Sequential Berlin: Jason Lutes’s City of Stones Series,” Ksenia Sidorenko, Yale U.
  2. “Retelling History in the Borderlands: Jaroslav Rudiš’s Alois Nebel and Bomber by Jaromír 99,” Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant U.
  3. “Retelling German History with the Graphic Novel,” Elizabeth Nijdam, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor

For abstracts, visit

183. Deep Drawings: Sociopolitical Themes in Anime and Manga

Friday, 6 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Virginia Room, Sheraton Seattle

A special session

Presiding: Joshua Paul Dale, Tokyo Gakugei U.

  1. “Alternative Manga Magazines in Postwar Japanese Comics: Garo and COM,” CJ Suzuki, Baruch Coll., CUNY
  2. “Subversive Cute: The Other Serious Anime and Manga,” Kerin Ogg, Wayne State U.
  3. “Current-Affairs Comics in a Global Context: The Comic Heart of Darkness,” Marie Thorsten, Doshisha U.

Respondent: Joshua Paul Dale

316. Asian Americans and Graphic Narrative

Friday, 6 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Room 303, Washington State Convention Center

Program arranged by the Division on Asian American Literature

Presiding: Timothy Yu, U. of Wisconsin, Madison

Speakers: Rachelle Cruz, UC Riverside; Lan Dong, U. of Illinois, Springfield; Tomo Hattori, CSU Northridge; Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens Coll., CUNY; Hye Su Park, Ohio State U., Columbus; Gene Luen Yang, San Jose, CA

Session Description:

Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, will be the featured speaker in this discussion of Asian American graphic narrative. Graphic novels and memoirs form an increasingly important part of the Asian American literary canon, offering new insights into issues of stereotyping, autobiography, and historical memory. GB Tran’s Vietnamerica, Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, and Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons will be among the works discussed.

409. Visual and Graphic Representations by Hispanic/Luso/Latina Female Writers and Artists

Saturday, 7 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Redwood Room, Sheraton Seattle

Program arranged by Feministas Unidas

Presiding: Magdalena M. Maiz-Peña, Davidson Coll.

  1. “Representación visual y corporal de la memoria y postmemoria en Bordado en la piel de la memoria de Mirta Kupferminc,” Daniela Goldfine, U. of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  2. “La transfiguración femenina: Del animal cínico al terrorismo gótico de la abyección. El comic serial de Cecila Pego y Caro Chinaski,” Carina González, U. of Florida
  3. “Bodies at the Crossroads: Latinas’ Latina Graphic Narratives,” Margaret Galvan, Graduate Center, CUNY
  4. “Mutation and Visibility: The Representation of a Female Body in Dominican Visual Art,” Elena Valdez, Rutgers U., New Brunswick

For abstracts, visit

486. Visual Culture

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Redwood Room, Sheraton Seattle

Program arranged by the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages

Presiding: Inmaculada Pertusa, Western Kentucky Univ.

  1. “From Writing to Painting: Caterina Albert and Mercè Rodoreda,” Kathleen McNerney, West Virginia U., Morgantown
  2. “Alissa Torres’s Graphic Tale of Grief: American Widow; or, My Husband Bleeds History,” Janis Breckenridge, Whitman Coll.
  3. “The Anxiety of Density in Graphic Novels: Solutions Based on Genderic Conventions and Creative Collaborations,” Maria Elsy Cardona, Saint Louis U.
  4. “Helen Zouk’s ‘Desapariciones’: Shooting Death,” David William Foster, Arizona State U.

570. Ethnographic Encounters: Jewish American and Italian American Graphic Narratives

Saturday, 7 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Room 307, Washington State Convention Center

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Italian American Literature and the Discussion Group on Jewish American Literature

Presiding: JoAnne Ruvoli, UCLA

  1. “From Caricature to Complexity: Drawing the Relationship between Italians and Jews in America,” Jennifer Glaser, U. of Cincinnati
  2. “America Makes Strange Jews: Jewish Identity and Pulp Masculinity in Howard Chaykin’s Dominic Fortune,” Brannon Costello, Louisiana State U., Baton Rouge
  3. “Shades of Old World and New: Ethnic Engagements in Nonsuperhero Italian American Comics,” Derek Parker Royal, U. of Nebraska, Kearney

For abstracts, visit after 24 Dec. 2011.

630. Comics, Bande Dessinée, Manga: For a Comparative Approach to the Study of Comics

Sunday, 8 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., Room 310, Washington State Convention Center

A special session

Presiding: Catherine Labio, U. of Colorado, Boulder

  1. “‘Aint I de Maine Guy in Dis Parade?’: Sympathetic Immigrant Narratives and the Transnational Worker in Early American Comic Strips,” Michael T. R. Demson, Sam Houston State U.
  2. “Academic Fandom and the Other-ed Side in American Comic Book Studies,” Shawna Kidman, USC
  3. “Masochistic Contracts, Bishōnen, and the Rejection of Futurity: How to Read Manga like a Victorian Woman,” Anna Maria Jones, U. of Central Florida

699. Graphic Narratives Retelling History: Serbia and Bosnia

Sunday, 8 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Virginia Room, Sheraton Seattle

Program arranged by the Division on Slavic and East European Literatures

Presiding: Rossen Djagalov, Yale U.

  1. “The Nova Dobo Festival of Nonaligned Comics in Belgrade,” Lisa Mangum, Independent Publishing Resource Center
  2. “How We Survived War, Sanctions, and NATO Bombing, and Then Laughed: Regards from Serbia by Alexandar Zograf,” Damjana Mraovic-O’Hare, Penn State U., University Park
  3. “Back into Bosnian: Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Goražde Returns Home from War,” Jessie M. Labov, Ohio State U., Columbus

Respondent: Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant Univ.

For abstracts, visit

734. Self-Narrating Lives: Genre-Bending Autobiographical Works

Sunday, 8 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Room 611, Washington State Convention Center

A special session

Presiding: Johanna Drucker, UCLA

Speakers: Maria Faini, UC Berkeley; Anna Gibbs, U. of Western Sydney; William Kuskin, U. of Colorado, Boulder; Vanessa Place, Les Figues Press; Christine Wertheim, California Institute of the Arts

Session Description:

This session explores the complexities of self-narration across media and formats with particular emphasis on those that blur genre lines. Autobiographical artists’ books, graphic novels are often highly self-reflexive, and their metacharacter as books about books, or subversions of norms, makes them sites of citation and parody in which formal mimicry and content play with readers’ expectations.

Wait, there’s more: Besides the above panels, search of the MLA program turns up other individual papers that may focus on comics, graphic narrative, or cartooning. These can be found within sessions on various topics not limited to comics. We list these papers here, by session and paper title, without listing all the other enticing paper topics involved in those sessions:

50. Writing Lives, Living Lives in French: Camille Delaville, Nathalie Sarraute, and Marjane Satrapi

Thursday, 5 January, 1:45-3:00 p.m., Columbia Room, Sheraton Seattle

3. “Exile and Ethics: (En)Gendering Cosmopolitan Conversation in Marjane Satrapi’s Broderies,” S. Olivia Donaldson, U. of Wisconsin, Madison

139. Peripheral Conversations: South-South Dialogues

Thursday, 5 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Room 307, Washington State Convention Center

1. “The Revolution Will Be Cartooned! African Political Cartoonists and the North African Uprising,” Tejumola Olaniyan, U. of Wisconsin, Madison

342. Asynchronous Empire

Friday, 6 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Room 306, Washington State Convention Center

3. “The Time of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Empire, Masculinity, and the Afterlife of Late-Victorian Adventure Fiction,” Ryan Fong, UC Davis

471. Asian/Jewish/American

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Room 304, Washington State Convention Center

3. “Graphic Transformations: Ethno-racial Identity and Discovery in Two Comics of Childhood,” Tahneer Oksman, Graduate Center, CUNY

473. Performing Identity in Late Life

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Virginia Room, Sheraton Seattle

2. “Melancholic Morphing: Aging Male Protagonists in Recent American Graphic Novels,” Adrielle Anna Mitchell, Nazareth Coll. of Rochester

(We note that our esteemed colleague, Leni Marshall of the U. of Wisconsin, Menomonie, is presiding over this session on behalf of the Discussion Group on Age Studies, with whom we collaborated last year!)

692. Human Rights Modes: Testimony

Sunday, 8 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Room 306, Washington State Convention Center

1. “Witness/Testimony: Graphic Narrative as Témoignage in the Humanitarian Work of Médecins sans Frontières,” Alexandra W. Schultheis, U. of North Carolina, Greensboro

NOTE: If you are presenting a comics-related paper or event at MLA 2012 and we have failed to list you here, please leave a comment on this blog so that we can correct the oversight. Likewise, everyone listed here, please help us keep this list accurate and up-to-date!


  1. I’m not sure I completed my entry when I tried earlier today to let you know of yet another session that might be of interest to those following the Comics and Graphic Narratives topic. I’m part of a panel on Photo(bio)graphies: collaborative intersections between text and image. MLA Seattle organized by Angeles Donoso Macaya.
    Thursday 5 7pm – 8:15. Boren Room in the Sheraton Hotel. I look forward to the other comics and graphic-narratives related presentations and thank you for the list you’ve provided. Joanne Leonard, artist/author of Being In Pictures, an Intimate Photo Memoir with foreword by Lucy R. Lippard

    1. Thank you for alerting us to this panel! It sounds fascinating, and certainly relevant—powerfully relevant—to the image/text project of comics studies. I (Charles Hatfield) had a chance to visit your blog, to read about your memoir Being in Pictures, and to marvel and delight at what I learned there. I will definitely be seeking out your book, and hope to be able to attend your panel.

      Readers, that panel is listed in the MLA program as follows:

      158. Photo(bio)graphies: Collaborative Intersections between Text and Image
      Thursday, 5 January, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Boren, Sheraton

      A special session
      Presiding: Angeles Donoso Macaya, McDaniel Coll.

      1. “Photobiography in France since 1975: New Trends and Strategies,” Fabien Arribert-Narce, Univ. of Kent

      2. “Secret Agents and State Building after the Mexican Revolution: A Photobiography of My Grandfather,” Jose Montelongo, Bard Coll.

      3. “Being in Pictures: Self-Reflection in Photo(auto)biography,” Joanne Leonard, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor

      For papers, write to

      Please check it out!

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