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.

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