The Forum for Comics and Graphic Narratives seeks proposals for a non-guaranteed special session at the Modern Language Association annual conference to take place in Philadelphia from January 4-7, 2024.
Recently comics challenges have been in the news, as school boards and politicians have banned comics like Maus and Gender Queer from library shelves. Such efforts to curtail comics circulation are not new to comics culture, nor are they limited to the United States. Given the role of such curtailing in global comics history, comics challenges (calls for a ban), bans (removal of books from shelves), and censorship (editing content or prohibiting titles from circulating) deserve further theorization. Such examinations have potential to highlight how questions of appropriateness, taste, pedagogical value, and audience have shaped comics form and content, while simultaneously calling attention to the political valences and social histories of comics around the world. Among the topics that might be addressed are:
- the implementation of various “Comics Codes” and the consequences of other explicit or hidden regulations on comics in the United States and around the world
- the effects of comics censorship and challenges on individual titles, series, creators, or publishing companies
- the disproportionate impact of race, gender, sexuality, and religion in debates over comics content
- the role of genre categories, ratings systems, awards, publishing imprints, and other classification strategies in influencing the distribution and reception of challenged comics
- interrogations on “taste” and changing attitudes towards depicting so-called objectionable, vulgar, and harmful representations in visual narrative
- critical examinations of the responses to comics bans among readers, educators, and industry professionals
- how the study of comics censorship intersects with conversations in other disciplines such as book history, print culture, visual rhetoric, and children’s and young adult literature.
Send 300 word abstracts and bios to Leah Misemer (email@example.com) and Qiana Whitted (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 15th. Note that this is a proposal for a special session and acceptance to the panel does not indicate acceptance to MLA. Those chosen as panel participants will need to be MLA members by April 1, 2023 in order for the panel to be considered by MLA. The MLA Program Committee typically sends out panel acceptances in June.