CFP: Comics/Graphic Narrative Sessions at NEMLA 2017, Baltimore (Deadline 9/30/2016)

UPDATE, 7/10/16, 7:01 PM EST: Added “Teaching bandes dessinées as Literature”
UPDATE, 7/13/16, 10:46 AM EST: Added
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 20 Years Later and Where We Went” and “Transmedia Storytelling: Questioning Canon in 21st-century Popular Culture Narratives”

The Northeast Modern Language Association continues its work to expand scholarly discussions about comics and graphic narratives. Session proposals for the upcoming Baltimore conference, meeting March 23 to 26, include panels organized and chaired by my colleagues Rafael Ponce-Cordero, Emily Lauer, and Lisa Perdigao, as well as one roundtable I’m co-organizing with Mary Ellen Iatropoulos on representations of disabilities in superhero narratives.

Please consider submitting 300-word abstracts and brief biographical statements to the following sessions, and please forward these calls for papers to interested scholars. Submissions are due September 30, 2016, at CFP List. Links for submitting abstracts and bios to each session are below.

Participants may submit paper abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; participants may present in no more than one session of the same type but may present a paper as part of a panel and also participate on a roundtable or creative session. More information is available at NeMLA’s web site.

Have I forgotten a comics-related NeMLA session to add? Please email me at derek.s.mcgrath@gmail.com or tweet me at @dereksmcgrath.


Superhero Narratives and (Dis)Ability (Roundtable)

Chairs: Derek McGrath (Independent Scholar) and Mary Ellen Iatropoulos (Independent Scholar)

Popular culture narratives present ever-increasing images of persons with disability, whether through superheroes themselves or via supporting cast members. Apart from literal impairment, superheroes and superpowers can also be read as allegories for disability and Othered bodies and minds. How can superpowers be read as disabilities, or disabilities as superpowers? How does the superhero’s superpowered engagement of ableist society reveal or illustrate complications of negotiating the construction of (dis)ability?


Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics

Chair: Rafael Ponce-Cordero (Keene State College)

The transformation sequence is standard to comics: Clark Kent rushes out of the phone booth and is now Superman, Usagi Tsukino spins and lights up to transform into Sailor Moon, Kamala Khan experiences terrigenesis to become Ms. Marvel, and Bruce Banner hulks out into a giant green rage monster. This session welcomes submissions that look at transformations not only of characters but of the graphic narrative form, and how those alterations affect other narrative practices in the novel, film, and television.


Maps in Popular Fiction (Panel)

Chair: Emily Lauer (SUNY Suffolk County Community College)

Maps bound in at the beginning of books can shape the reading of the book in a variety of ways. This panel will consider the questions of genre raised (and perhaps answered) by prefacing fiction with maps, and also the various issues of intertextuality indicated by the presence of the map. This panel welcomes papers that examine the importance of printed maps in popular fiction of a variety of genres and forms including mysteries, fantasies, and superhero stories in comics, novels, manga series, and more.


Marvel vs. DC: Civil War? (Panel)

Chair: Lisa Perdigao (Florida Institute of Technology)

Released in spring 2016, Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice converge on the narrative of a house divided. Marvel’s and DC’s staging of the wars between their respective superheroes is suggestive of a larger battle between the two franchises that dates back to the comics. This panel will explore how the concept of civil war plays out within and between the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC Entertainment films and television series. Papers are sought that examine individual Marvel and DC works (comics, films, and television series), the expansive Marvel and DC universes, and the relationship between the two rival companies.


Why Afrofuturism, Why Now? (Panel)

Chair: Maleda Belilgne (University of Maryland-Baltimore County)

This session seeks papers that explore the temporal, geographical, and aesthetic parameters of Afrofuturism. In recent years, the black speculative has emerged as central to critical inquiry, creative expression, and theories of black subjectivity and social death. What is it about our contemporary moment that demands, solicits and activates the fantastic? Possible topics include, but are not limited to, black performativity, sound studies, black speculative fiction, literature of the black fantastic, black futurity in the visual, sonic and digital arts, black comic books, and black critical theory.


“The Death of Zod”: Ethics in 21st-century Comics (Panel)

Chairs: Forrest Johnson (York University) and Tracey Thomas (York University)

From Man of Steel to the CW’s Arrow and Flash series to the Avengers franchise, comic book characters are facing new ethical developments in their rejuvenation that both encompass and go beyond the idea of killing one’s enemy. Following a loose Nietzschean trajectory of “The Death of God,” this panel seeks to tease out the issues of superheroes’ ethics. Further, this panel questions the regenerated heroes of the 21st century and the moral and ethical dilemmas these characters face in the contemporary world. Papers might focus on comic book adaptations on big and small screens or comic book characters’ revival in print.


Comics and Graphic Novels in a Transnational Perspective (Panel)

Chair: Julia Ludewig (SUNY Binghamton)

This panel looks at German-language comics and graphic novels within a transnational framework. It welcomes papers that consider transnational comparisons of, for example, the same genre category, similar themes, or narrative techniques. It seeks to illuminate differences and similarities in the chosen works with specific regard to their linguistic and/or national characteristics.


The Representation of Race in American Comics/Graphic Novels (Panel)

Chair: Teresa Feroli (New York University)American comics have a long and checkered history in the way they have portrayed racial difference, though more recent comics/graphic novels have used the medium to comment effectively on American racial politics. As the genre grows in popularity in bookstores and on college campuses, now seems an opportune time to take stock of the ways this medium has both fostered and critiqued racist attitudes. This panel welcomes submissions on this topic from any era of American comics/graphic novels and from any literary critical or cultural studies perspective.


Comics of the Margins: Visions from the Periphery in World Graphic Narratives (Panel)

Chairs: Camila Gutierrez (Pennsylvania State University-University Park) and Irenae Aigbedion (Pennsylvania State University-University Park)

This panel welcomes papers that examine the propagandistic, cosmological, religious, or ideological subtexts of comic books and longer graphic narratives originating in literatures outside of the paradigm of U.S. American comics.


Speculative Horror: Ontologies of the Real

Chair: Bethany Doane (Pennsylvania State University)

This panel seeks to explore the possibilities of theoretical engagement with horror fiction in a post-linguistic and post-critique era of realism, materialism, and the nonhuman. It encourages interdisciplinary considerations of what these theoretical modes have to offer potential new readings of the various manifestations of the horror genre, from literature to philosophy to film and television to comics to interactive digital media.


World War I Revisited In Literature and Other Arts: Saying the Unspeakable (Panel)

Chair: Eckhard Kuhn-Osius (Hunter College-CUNY)

Cultural Studies approach to the traumatizing experience of World War I, analysis of literary works or adaptations thereof (film, graphic literature) that deal with the Great War. Scholars from all cultures and social groups that were involved in the war are welcome.


“Do I wake or sleep?”: The Manifold Implications of Gaiman’s The Sandman (Panel)

Chair: Joshua Cohen (Massachusetts College of Art and Design)

Reading Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series, The Sandman, is like racing through a condensed combined curriculum in the classic humanities and modern cultural studies.This panel explores The Sandman as a work of art and as a manifold vision into human life as viewed within a vast cultural and cosmologicial framework. All critical perspectives (including cultural studies, pedagogy, and interdisciplinary approaches) are welcome.


Comics and Graphic Novels in a Transnational Perspective (Panel)

Chair: Julia Ludewig (SUNY Binghamton)

This panel looks at German-language comics and graphic novels within a transnational framework. It welcomes papers that consider transnational comparisons of, for example, the same genre category, similar themes, or narrative techniques. It seeks to illuminate differences and similarities in the chosen works with specific regard to their linguistic and/or national characteristics.


The Contrary of Revelation: Apocalypse and the Epistemology of Horror

Chair: Eleanor Gold (SUNY University at Buffalo)

The increasing awareness of global climate change, economic strife, political upheaval and epidemiological crises spurs a multitude of responses from writers, artists, and scholars seeking to illustrate or interrogate the ultimate epistemological rift inherent in the end of life itself. This panel invites papers that address various media interpretations and conceptualizations of the apocalypse, including fiction, film, television, graphic novels, etc.


Pow! Graphic Literature to Engage Students in the Creative Writing Workshop (Roundtable)

Chair: Maureen McVeigh (West Chester University)

Students in creative writing workshops often lack reading experience and knowledge, but demonstrate awareness and analysis of film and television. Graphic literature can be used to transition from the terminology and rhetorical understanding they possess to the writing and feedback skills the workshop demands. This roundtable seeks to present and discuss both recommended texts and strategies to engage students and encourage their creative writing. Theoretical and practical approaches to this method are welcome.


Rendering Subjectivity and Perspective in Visual Representations (Roundtable)

Chair: Catherine Winters (University of Rhode Island)

Uncertainties, positionalities, and shifting interpretations often play an important part in our research, but standard graphical representations, which are frequently used in the Digital Humanities, seem to represent information objectively. Do charts, maps, graphs and other forms of representation hinder our discussions of experiential issues and can we work to reimagine these traditional graphic representations through layer or distortion, or should we invent new forms for humanities work? Considering these questions further pushes scholars in DH to move beyond appropriation of methods that work but do not fully embody the considerations of humanities study, with the ultimate goal of not only better defining DH but also continuing to work towards methods and forms unique to humanities. This sessions invites both theoretical considerations of representation in DH, as well as concrete examples of projects using new visuals to approach these issues.


Blasphemous Translation (Panel)

Chair: Manuela Borzone (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

This session welcomes papers that explore “blasphemous translations,” i.e., translations, rewritings, parodies, or adaptations of so-called “canonical” texts into a variety of media, including literature, film, graphic narratives, etc.


Teaching bandes dessinées as Literature

Chair: Cynthia Laborde (Hamilton College)

This panel seeks innovative perspectives on any aspect of teaching French language bandes dessinées as literature through specific example(s) to prompt critical thought and reflection. 250-word abstracts in French or in English.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 20 Years Later and Where We Went

Chair: Lindsay Bryde (SUNY Suffolk County Community College)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in 1997 with relatively low expectations, yet the show thrived commercially and has become its own scholarly academic discipline. This roundtable looks for papers that examine the progress of Slayer Studies and the evolution of critical discourse that has taken place. A major question to consider is: how well has Buffy as a series aged? What makes the show a time capsule for future generations or a piece that can be picked up as socially relevant in the here and now?


Transmedia Storytelling: Questioning Canon in 21st-century Popular Culture Narratives

Chair: Mary Ellen Iatropoulos (Independent Scholar)

How does transmedia storytelling inform and influence contemporary understandings of the relationships between medium, auteur, canon, and fandom? When both fans and creators are “creating” meaning out of transmedia texts, what counts as canon – as the “real” character or story? By what criteria and to what critical end is such a judgment made, and to whom do we grant the right to make such judgments? This panel session seeks proposals that explore the often-vexed but equally-often fruitful relationships between readers, writers, auteurs, and fans in the world of 21st-century popular culture narratives.
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