MLA 2020 Special Session CFP: Webcomics and/as Digital Culture (DEADLINE: 3/15/2019)

Call for Papers for a proposed special session at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention on January 9-12, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. This panel is sponsored by the Comics and Graphic Narratives Forum.

Webcomics are arguably the form of comics with the broadest reach, but scholarship on the subject has been sparse.  As a form that both takes advantage of the representational affordances of comics and the opportunities provided by the connectivity and lack of gatekeeping in the digital realm, webcomics present a rich source of possibility for comics scholars and digital media scholars alike, particularly when considering marginalized creators and characters. This panel seeks to explore the ways that webcomics have shaped and have been shaped by the digital context in which they appear. Proposed papers might consider the following questions:

  • What can the many author-curated archives of webcomics tell us about the history of the digital sphere?
  • How have webcomics changed as digital technology has evolved?
  • How do different web cartoonists, particularly those from marginalized groups, take advantage of the web’s connectivity to create communities?
  • What role do webcomics play alongside other social media in helping authors to shape a digital identity?
  • What frameworks from digital media studies or comics studies might be useful in theorizing webcomics as a form?
  • How might webcomics’ tendency to blur boundaries–between comics and digital media, between print and digital culture, between readers and authors–reframe our understanding of these entities?

Please send 300-word abstract and bio to Leah Misemer (lsmisemer@gmail.com) by 15 March 2019.  This is a proposed special session. Acceptance to the panel does not guarantee acceptance to MLA.  All panelists must be MLA members by April 2019.

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