I wrote earlier about the many session proposals on comics, graphic narratives, animation, and related topics that the Northeast Modern Language Association includes for its upcoming March 2017 convention in Baltimore. With this year’s convention focused in large part on language, culture, and international studies, one particular comics session is especially relevant. Comics frequently focus on transformations–mutations, maturation, name alterations–as allegories for feeling one’s identity changed by movement or displacement.
My colleague at Keene State College, Rafael Ponce-Cordero, is organizing the session “Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics,” which considers both formal and content-based transformations. This session therefore looks at how comics represent or use transformations, whether as how characters conceive of changes to their identities in terms of race, nationality, as well as gender and sexuality, or how transformations of the comics medium have altered ways we communicate about these and other topics.
Potential topics may include adaptations from comics to animation and other media, innovations in the comics medium, or transformations of characters, whether physical mutations, Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequences, or changes to characters’ personalities over their publication history.
The CFP is below. Please consider submitting a 300-word abstract and a brief biographical statement to NeMLA’s CFP List web site at this link: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/16467. Please forward this call for papers to interested scholars.
The deadline is September 30, 2016. If you have any questions, please email Rafael Ponce-Cordero (email@example.com).
Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics
Chair: Rafael Ponce-Cordero (Keene State College)
Description: 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.
Abstract: Comics are a medium that has transformations in both form and content. Their form centers on the transition of one image to another in sequence; as with any narrative, it often focuses on the development of a dynamic character, and in superhero stories, with the additional metamorphosis of a person’s very body and identity.
Scholars continue to return to comics as one avenue for considering the transitive, even transgressive, dimensions of identity. Graphic memoirs, such as Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, use the comics medium to represent feelings of isolation, assimilation, and othering by the very transformation of their younger selves’ bodies. Superhero comics such as Ms. Marvel, X-Men, and Inhumans have used bodily transformations not only as symbolic of self-conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality but also as extensions of those same identities. As Aaron Taylor argues, the human body in comics is a site of contention, able to be superhuman in terms of muscularity, flexibility, and speed, yet marked as othered and hence an opportunity to represent feelings of difference as physical manifestations and changes.
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: www.buffalo.edu/nemla