CFP: Developments in Comics Pedagogy (MLA 2016)

I am pleased to announce that a colleague and I are proposing a special session for the 2016 meeting of the Modern Language Association in Austin, Texas.

Keith McCleary at UC San Diego and I previously had organized, with K. Wayne Yang, at UC San Diego, a similar session at the Northeast Modern Language Association, which featured a productive discussion with comics creators and teachers on innovative pedagogical practices for comics, graphic novels, and other sequential art in the production and appreciation of comics. We look forward to bringing this discussion to the MLA.

Towards forming a roundtable featuring teachers passionate about their teaching of comics, we appreciate feedback. If you have suggestions for how to improve our CFP to best address the current debates in comics pedagogy, please email us at kmccleary@ucsd.edu and derek.s.mcgrath@gmail.com.

The brief CFP and the extended description are below.


MLA 2016 (Austin, Texas, January 7-10): “Developments in Comics Pedagogy”

This special session is a roundtable that focuses on innovative teaching practices of the production, research, and appreciation of comics. Submit a 200- to 350-word statement summarizing your approaches to teaching comics by March 1, 2015, to both Keith McCleary (kmccleary@ucsd.edu) and Derek McGrath (derek.s.mcgrath@gmail.com).

Whereas Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, and others have legitimized the academic appreciation of and teaching of comics, this special session begins with the assumption that the canon of comics and the legitimacy of the teaching of comics in literature courses are both well confirmed.  Rather than continue to debate the importance of comics in pedagogy, this session looks forward to the next steps. What do we do now with comics?  How do comics provide an opportunity for students to develop a rhetorical persona in the classroom?  This session is not an introduction to comics, and this session is not intended to defend comics as worthwhile texts to be researched and taught:  their value has been proven time and again.  This session instead focuses on the next steps in innovating creative, research, and pedagogical approaches towards the production of and appreciation of comics. Overall, this session focuses on the ongoing approach to how we create, research, and teach comics.

This special session seeks participants who are familiar with the practices of teaching comics as related to their own artistic and research interests.  Potential participants include teachers who also illustrate comics, write comics, and publish comics–or illustrators, writers, and publishers who also teach comics.  We are interested in a range of approaches that touch upon various experiences in writing, illustrating, archiving, researching, teaching, and enjoying comics.  We are also interested in the range of disciplines of those participants who research comics, the genres of participants who create comics, and the topics approached by all participants.

In particular, we are interested in presentations that look at a variety of approaches in teaching comics, including but not limited to the following:

  •      Formal components (comparison to “traditional” literature, designing panels, developing narrative and characterization)
  •      Teaching the processes of comics creation, publishing, and industry and fan participation through a variety of independent and collaborative projects
  •      Professionalization in comics creation and research, including strategies for applying for grants towards such work
  •      Interdisciplinary approaches through comics, including but not limited to art, history, linguistics, literary analysis, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology

Overall, this session offers opportunities for presenters to identify gaps that remain in the production of and appreciation of comics in terms of both content and formal structure, and this session offers opportunities for audience members to inform themselves of innovative practices in teaching comics creation and research.

This session will be question-friendly, will depend upon audience participation, and will include a substantial amount of time for audience members to join the conversation with panelists.

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