Transnational Comics (examples from the Czech Republic, India, and Argentina)

Call for Papers for a proposed panel at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, 9-12 Jan. 2014, in Chicago. Jointly sponsored by the MLA Division on Literature and Other Arts and the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives.

Spurred by the development of the Internet and wordless communication, transnationalism has come to mean a new way of thinking about the relationships and interconnectivity among cultures, languages, arts, and peoples on the international stage. Comics and graphic narratives have long been the visual and textual testament to this global interaction. From the influence of 19th and early 20th century European comic art on American comics (and vice versa), the cultural links between Japanese manga and comics worldwide, and the rise of graphic novels in non-western countries to current issues of production, translation, and cultural reception, comics and graphic narratives lend themselves to a transnational lens. Indeed, in these complex and vulnerable times, as globalization refigures what we mean by “worldwide” and cultural forms cross-pollinate across national boundary lines, the prospect of a truly transnational comics studies seems more important than ever.

This panel invites papers that explore the cultural exchange that comics and graphic narratives have had and continue to offer. A few questions to consider:

  • How do American comics differ from manga? From bande dessinée?
  • How have specific comic artists influenced each other in transnational and intercultural contexts? Papers might consider, for example, how a distinctive style (such as Hergé’s ligne claire) has been adopted by artists in other countries, or how comics anthologies (such as RAW or Stripburger) and festivals (such as the FIBD in Angoulême) facilitate transnational connections.
  • How have superhero characters been adapted around the world? What are the implications of these transnational adaptations?
  • What are the cultural implications when comics are translated into other languages and for other audiences, for example into English for American markets? What aspects of the original context are preserved or lost in this translation?
  • How might emerging theories of transnationalism, or analyses of globalization, shed light on comics and comics culture?

Send 200 to 300-word abstracts in .doc or .pdf to Nhora Serrano (nhora [dot] serrano [at] csulb [dot] edu) and Anke Finger (anke [dot] finger [at] uconn [dot] edu) by 8 March 2012. Submitters will receive notification of results by April 1.

PLEASE NOTE: This CFP is for a proposed, not a guaranteed, session at MLA 2014, meaning it is contingent on approval by the MLA Program Committee (which will make its decisions after April 1). All prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than 7 April 2012.

Please feel free to leave comments on this site, or to email Charles Hatfield, charles [dot] hatfield [at] gmail [dot] com, if you have questions!

Transnational Comics (examples from Canada, Japan, and Côte d'Ivoire/France)