My Upcoming Conference Presentations: Poe and Satirical Comic Books

Aside from scheduling any local comic book/anime conventions, here are the academic conferences where I’m presenting in the upcoming months:

“Detecting the Complementary Poles of Sentiment and Sensation in Poe’s ‘The Oblong Box.’” Poe Studies Association International Conference. February 27

“Comedy and Comics: Parody, Satire, and Humor in Superhero Narratives.” Northeast Modern Language Association. May 1

“Detecting the Complementary Poles of Sentiment and Sensation in Poe’s ‘The Oblong Box’” will be my second presentation to the Poe Studies Association, after presenting as part of their joint sessions with the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society in 2013 at the Modern Language Association. As suggested by my presentation’s title, I draw upon an argument by Jonathan Elmer regarding representations of gender in both sensationalism and sentimentalism. Both literary approaches are common to Poe’s body of literature, even in the same tale. Poe draws upon both literary practices when writing “The Oblong Box,” which makes this text an important but overlooked tale of ratiocination, and one that I argue re-arranges the tropes of the detective genre as concerns representations of men and women. As one of his last stories within the detective genre, “The Oblong Box” prompts re-consideration of the overall tract Poe followed when it comes to positioning female characters in “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” and other tales as victims of violence, and men as alternating between rational, stoic detectives and mourning, bereaved acquaintances or lovers.

In addition to this exciting session at the Poe Conference coming up, I’m looking forward to the NeMLA session, “Comedy and Comics: Parody, Satire, and Humor in Superhero Narratives,”  as it will continue a discussion I held at the Modern Language Association earlier this year, as part of the Graduate Caucus’s roundtable, on my participation in online fan communities. My practices in those communities often take satiric approaches when it comes to representations of gender in comics, which corresponds with similar practices found at Escher Girls and The Hawkeye Initiative. Rafael Ponce-Cordero at Keene College, with whom I collaborated in previous academic convention sessions, had the great idea for a session on humor as it operates in the superhero genre and in comics overall. I’m happy to join co-organize with Rafael the session “Comedy and Comics,” and I’m looking forward to my presentation for this session, “For the LOLz: Comedic Reinterpretations of the Superhero in Online Fan Communities.”

Back to writing.

Preparing for Your Conference: For Presentations in Literature, Language, and the Humanities

I continue to receive feedback regarding my guide for how to draft and submit abstracts for successful placement on a range of conference panels on literature, language, and the humanities. I appreciate the responses, suggestions, and alternative methods for how to revise seminar papers and developing articles to write presentations for conferences. Please keep the suggestions coming!

Speaking with one colleague recently, our discussion turned to practices for how to write the actual conference paper itself, and how to be ready for the conference itself. The briefer advice is, for a 15- to 20-minute talk, to have a hard copy of your presentation ranging from five to ten pages. Skew more to fewer pages if you are giving your first 15-minute presentation and especially if you are prone to improvise. And be cautious of improvisation: this approach is necessary for roundtables but less effective for paper presentations that are timed and must include as much clear information as possible within a set period of time.

Below I offer (and updated here) thorough advice for what to do in the months, weeks, days, and minutes leading up to your conference presentation. This topic is on my mind right now because of a lot of prep time I need (I’m presenting at the MLA again in January, an Edgar Allan Poe conference in February, and the Northeast MLA in April), so I plan to update this post in the future. For now, keep these ideas in mind, especially if you too are heading to MLA this year.

And let me know how you prepare for a conference. Comment below, email me, or post on Twitter.

Thanks to the guidance of Michael Harrawood at the Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University; Hilary Edwards Lithgow at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Ayesha Ramachandran at Yale University; and Susan Scheckel at Stony Brook University.



And speaking of writing abstracts for conferences–don’t forget that abstracts for sessions of the Northeast Modern Language Association are due tomorrow, Tuesday, September 30.

So why not submit to my CFP regarding the use of humor in comics and superhero narratives?

“Writing Your Abstract for Conferences,” continued

Thanks to people writing in with the productive feedback regarding my earlier tutorial on how to write a conference abstract:  I have received helpful feedback online from scholars based on their own experiences at a number of conferences, identifying key components they incorporate into their abstracts and also their presentations.

One conversation in particular identified a clarification necessary in the earlier post, and which will be incorporated into the document still in development: when it is appropriate to cite other scholars in your abstract and in your presentation.  Are you identifying yourself as part of the larger critical debate, or are you at risk of name-dropping?


CFP: Comics Read But Seldom Seen–Diversity and Representation in Comics and Related Media

The University of Florida is hosting an exciting conference on representations of diversity in comics, graphic novels, and related media. Please consider submitting proposals by January 1, 2015—and please forward this CFP to anyone who you think would be interested.

[CFP] 2015 UF Comics Conference

Comics Read But Seldom Seen: Diversity and Representation in Comics and Related Media.

The Graduate Comics Organization at the University of Florida invites applicants to submit proposals to the 12th UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, “Comics Read But Seldom Seen: Diversity and Representation in Comics and Related Media.” The conference will be held from Friday, April 10th, 2015 to Sunday, April 12th, 2015.  Proposals are due January 1st, 2015.

Proposals should be between 200 and 300 words. All proposals should be submitted to Najwa Al-Tabaa at


Call for Papers, Sept 30 Deadline: “Comedy and Comics: Parody, Satire, and Humor in Superhero Narratives” (Northeast MLA, Toronto, April 30, to May 3, 2015)

Shameless plug: I’m co-organizing a panel.

The Northeast Modern Language Association will host its 46th annual conference for April and May 2015 in Toronto. NeMLA continues to attract scholars from a wide range of specializations and is a productive community for first-time presenters, graduate students, and senior professors.

I have been fortunate to have a session accepted for the 2015 meeting in Toronto, which will focus on comedy, parody, and satire in comics and the larger superhero genre. I am indebted to Dr. Rafael Ponce-Cordero, as this session develops from ideas generated at his session, “Can the Subaltern Be a Superhero? The Politics of Heroic Alterity,” at the April 2014 meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, of NeMLA. I have worked closely with Dr. Ponce-Cordero on the following CFP, and we will be working together on organizing this session. Thanks also to the organizers at NeMLA, especially in the Cultural and Media Studies area.

I have included the CFP abstract below as well as the longer description. NeMLA has created a new user-based system for submitting abstracts to all sessions directly online at At this address, please create a user account to submit your abstract (no more than 300 words) to Session #15447, and please consider some of the other 350 sessions hosted in Toronto this year, comprising paper panels, roundtables, and creative sessions. The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2014.

If you are unable to submit your abstract through the web site, please send me an email at, and I’ll be happy to assist you with you submission. Please also email regarding additional questions about the user-based system.

Now I’m off to watch reruns of The Tick.


Stan Lee bristles at calling them “comic books,” lest readers think they are only “funny books.” This panel identifies how humor operates in works centered around superheroes—as parody, satire, and comedy. Potential topics include comedic twists on the superhero archetype; “campy” TV and film adaptations of “serious” characters; webcomics and humorous children’s books; teaching satire through comics; and cross-cultural appropriation of the superhero motif.

Submit abstracts (no more than 300 words) to Session ID#15447 at Visitors to this web site then may sign up for a free account to submit abstract or at For any questions about submitting electronically, please email or


This session welcomes submissions on a range of topics.  This session may draw together studies of comics and the superhero motif as captured in works published by mainstream and independent outlets, including the works of Mark Millar, Frank Miller, and Alan Moore, and in works including El Chapulín Colorado, Dr. Horrible, Robocop, El Santos, The Tick, and Tiger and Bunny.  This session also can include presentations focused around children’s literature, based on how often texts directed at younger readers—Bone, Captain Underpants, and The Powerpuff Girls—eschew the conceits of superhero narratives to appeal to audiences across multiple age groups. In addition, camp in comics motivates considerable discussion in gender and sexuality studies, as many scholars develop their scholarship out of the shadow of the Adam West Batman television series (itself continuing in new comic books released by publisher DC Comics). Additional topics can focus on the use of satire built around superheroes in fan communities online, such as The Hawkeye Initiative and Escher Girls.

NeMLA 2014: Workshops in Harrisburg–MOOCs, Welsh poetic devices, and more!


The NeMLA 2014 Convention will feature small group workshops offered on Thursday, April 3, and Sunday, April 6. The workshops will feature presenters who will work closely with workshop participants on a range of topics including online teaching, MOOCs, Welsh poetic devices, translation theory, and applying for grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Workshop details and descriptions are below. Purchase workshop tickets through the NeMLA Memberships and Registration website at All workshops will be held at the convention site, the Hilton Harrisburg, PA.

For more information, please email Carine Mardorossian, Pre-registration is required for all workshops by Friday, March 28.