#NeMLA18: “Edgar Allan Poe and Race,” Fri Apr 13 8:30 AM

Wake up early Friday, April 13, for a dynamic set of presentations at the 49th annual meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association in Pittsburgh!

Special thanks to the Poe Studies Association for supporting this session.

“Edgar Allan Poe and Race” will meet at the Omni William Penn in the Three Rivers Room, 8:30 to 9:45 AM. This session will start with a look at one of Poe’s first published works, Tamerlane (the eponymous conqueror featured above), look at the representations of race in “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and Pym, and also look at some of Poe’s last publications for, of all places, an abolitionist newspaper.

Below are the titles of presentations. If you would like more information, email or tweet @dereksmcgrath.

  • “Edgar Allan Poe’s Last Publications in the Abolitionist Newspaper Flag of Our Union” Derek McGrath, SUNY University at Buffalo
  • “The Haunting Illogic of Ratiocination: The Invisibility of the Black Body in Poe’s ‘Murders'” Alex Moskowitz, Boston College
  • “Pym as Global Communicator: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” Lisa Weddell, Duquesne University

Deadline Friday: Poe and Comics at NeMLA 2017!

Friday, September 30, 2016, is the deadline to submit to the more than 400 calls for papers at the 48th annual meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association, in Baltimore, Maryland.

My colleagues and I are organizing exciting panels in studies of literature and popular culture, including two sessions I’m putting together on Edgar Allan Poe and representations of disabilities in comics.

And additional sessions below may be of interest in light of recent developments in comics and the superhero genre–Luke Cage premieres tomorrow as well, so why not watch the show, and use that to draft an abstract to a relevant session below?

These are just a few of the exciting sessions (with links for submitting 300-word abstracts) that can lead to dynamic discussions–so please consider submitting abstracts or forwarding these calls of papers to interested peers.

Primer to NeMLA 2016: “The Monster In the House: Domestic Ideology in Superhero Narratives”

The Northeast Modern Language Association will host the session “The Monster In the House: Domestic Ideology in Superhero Narratives” on Saturday, March 19, at 11:45 AM in Conference Room 5 of the Marriott Downtown Hartford. This session is organized by Mary Ellen Iatropoulos, with the support of the Area directors of the NeMLA Board for Cultural and Media Studies and Interdisciplinary Humanities.

In addition to the “Marvel Cinematic Universe as Literature” roundtable Mary Ellen and I are co-organizing, our viewing of Age of Ultron led to a discussion as well about domestic ideology. Mary Ellen and I both research and publish on nineteenth-century United States domesticity–and on everything Joss Whedon. In fact, we first met years ago at NeMLA when she was presenting on nineteenth-century women’s literature and I was presenting on Dr. Horrible. It’s taken a long time, but that intersection of the domestic and the comic book happened, and I am grateful that NeMLA accepted this session.

I was involved in helping to draft the call for papers for this session, as well as join in discussing about panelists for inclusion on this session, and I am grateful to Mary Ellen for letting me join in. Our presentations may have a bit of overlap, as they emerge in at least a very small way from seeing Age of Ultron and discussing it together with our colleagues, especially regarding the revelations of Clint “Hawkeye” Barton’s farmhouse and Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff’s “monstrous motherhood.” This will be an important discussion in continuing to read the cultural motifs of the home and family as they exist in superhero narratives, and we look forward to the discussion that emerges.

(I could definitely spend hours discussing the location of home as sites for just super-powered battle scenes, whether in all the Iron Man films, The Incredibles, King Shark ripping the roof off Joe West’s house in The Flash…)

The presentations for “The Monster In the House” include:

“Choosing Monstrosity: Black Widow, Reproductive Rights, and Domestic Agency in the MCU”
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos, Independent Scholar

“The Hawk at His Nest: Domestic Masculinity and Marvel Comics’s Hawkeye”
Derek McGrath, SUNY Stony Brook

“Dad is a Monster: Disruption of the Nuclear Family Ideal in Marvel’s Agents of Shield”
Adriane Ivey, Emory University

“A Home at the End of the World: The Future of Domesticity in the MCU”
Lisa Perdigao, Florida Institute of Technology


CFP (deadline Oct 15): Sessions on Comics, Animation, and Visual Arts at NeMLA 2016

The Northeast Modern Language Association is holding its 47th annual convention in Hartford, Connecticut, starting March 17th. The deadline for abstract submissions has been extended for select sessions to Thursday, October 15th.

I am encouraged by the work NeMLA has taken to increase the number of sessions focused on comics, graphic novels, visual narratives, and the superhero genre. And to keep that presence strong, I encourage anyone interested to submit to the following select sessions (especially for a session on the role of Japanese animation in Latin America) before the October 15th deadline. And please forward to anyone who you think would be interested in these sessions. All links below go directly to the site for submitting abstracts online:

Birdman and Cinematic Epistemology”

The subtitle of the Oscar Winner for Best Picture in 2015, Birdman; or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), points to the movie’s engagement with the ways that we know or fail to know (and whether knowing is good or bad) in 2010s America. This panel seeks papers that examine knowledge (or lack thereof) in this film and its connections with its cinematic techniques.

“Regenerating Comics in the 21st Century”

The 21st century has seen the resurrections of numerous comic book characters in film and television. From Captain America’s resuscitation as the “first Avenger” to Liv Moore’s revivification in iZombie, papers are sought that consider how comic book characters are regenerated in contemporary narratives, suggesting the possibilities and limitations of digital technologies in contemporary storytelling.

“La Vi(ll)e des autres: New Urban Encounters Via Visual Arts”

How and why do contemporary French and Francophone visual arts reconfigure urban spaces abroad and reframe encounters with ‘stranger(s) to ourselves’ foreigners today? This bilingual seminar offers a two-fold strand to query the fluidity of boundaries and identities beyond transnational multiculturalism. Via film, photography, installations, what ethical concerns and mixed perspectives emerge from the diversity of recent representations of foreign cities, and what does looking back at visions and revisions of French and Francophone cities illuminate and entail about the hexagon or ‘homeland’?

“Italian Graphic Novels”

Italy has had a long-standing tradition of graphic novels for decades, from the beginning of the twentieth century to now. Historical, humorous, mysterious, adventurous, noir, erotic, informative: they speak of the history of a country that found an original voice through storie a fumetti, especially during difficult times (post-World War II, the Seventies, recent years). Papers on any aspect of graphic novels in Italian are welcome.

“De Candy Candy a Ergo Proxy y más allá: El anime en Latinoamérica”

Japanese animation has had an important place in Latin American TV for decades. This panel will explore the reception of anime and its impact on Latin American anime fan communities. These groups have created networks of science-fiction fans that actively participate in the construction of a transnational cultural identity. Latin American anime fans create literature and art that illustrate how they envision their national, and transnational communities expanding the canon to include the Latin American context through fan fiction and original work.

Submissions are due Thursday, October 15th. Both NeMLA members and non-members may submit abstracts to multiple sessions after setting up a free CFP List NeMLA account here:

NeMLA CFP Deadline 9/30: Composition Sessions on Student Writing

We are less than one week away from the September 30th deadline for all calls for papers at the Northeast Modern Language Association.

Submit abstracts about composition pedagogy!

The 47th annual meeting of NeMLA will be held in Hartford, Connecticut, March 17 to 20. The full list of more than 400 CFPs is available at CFP List (, and I have advertised some sessions my peers and I are organizing (and posted some advice for writing abstracts and on one topic).

I also wanted to advertise two sessions organized by my colleague, Heather Urbanski at Fitchburg State University. Both sessions focus on composition classroom practices directed to successful student writing. I have included both CFPs with direct links for submitting abstracts. Both NeMLA members and non-members may submit to as many sessions as desired, with a free CFP List NeMLA account that can be created here.

Please forward these CFPs to anyone you know who would be interested in submitting.

Evaluating Student Writing (Roundtable)

Have you ever wondered, “How on Earth can I grade this poem? Can creativity even be quantified?” Or, “how should revision fit into the overall course grade?” In this roundtable, writing instructors from a variety of fields (rhetoric and composition; technical writing; creative writing; and more) will discuss their systems for assessing and evaluating student writing in the college classroom. Both conceptual and pragmatic concerns will be addressed for making the evaluation and feedback process an integral part of our writing pedagogy.

Writing instructors from various fields (rhetoric and composition; technical writing; creative writing; and more) are invited to share their systems for assessing and evaluating student writing in the college classroom at both conceptual and pragmatic levels.

The Student as Writer: Embodiment, Mindfulness, and Disability in the Composition Classroom

In this session, we review ways to approach the First Year Composition and other writing classrooms by focusing on the students as embodied writers, taking student-centered pedagogy to a new level. Areas of interest for papers include, but are not limited to, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and disability studies. A combination of theoretical and practical perspectives will be employed to locate the student as embodied writer within the disciplinary tradition.

Taking student-centered pedagogy to a new level, presenters review both theoretical and practical perspectives on students as embodied writers in the classroom. Topics include meditation, disability studies, and mindfulness, among others. A combination of theoretical and practical perspectives will be employed to locate the student as embodied writer within the disciplinary tradition.

On Ruined Film Adaptations (NeMLA 2016)

Ally Carter offers a look at the ekphrastic challenges moving from text to screen. 

My conference preparations for both the Modern Language Association and the Northeast Modern Language Association have been keeping me busy, including one call for papers I have for the session “Ruined! On Failed Adaptations from Page to Screen” that I’m co-organizing with Emily Lauer at Suffolk County Community College. 

(Shameless plug: submit your abstracts about failed film, TV, and online adaptations of books, short stories, and more here before September 30!)

As we’re developing the panel, Emily forwarded me this post by the author of Heist Society, Ally Carter, regarding the challenges of adapting content from text to screen. 

Carter points out that “no film adaptation has ever changed one word of a novel–that the novel is and will always be the same”—primarily because of the larger number of participants in the process of making a film (director, producers, studios) than the number of participants in the process of writing a book (author, editor). 

To clarify her point, Carter uses the analogy that adapting a book to a film is like the chemistry cooking. For example, if you are adapting Harry Potter for film, you can change the recipe in some spots, such as replacing pecans with walnuts (changing a character’s age, an actor who varies just slightly in appearance, a minor change of location) and still have a quality product that satisfies most of the reasonable expectations. But you can’t replace baking soda with baking powder (replacing one character of a certain age and gender with another one due to studio dictates) and expect the result to be successful: 

I guess the key question is this: “Will this change impact other aspects of the story?”

Will this change the chemistry?

“We found a great young actress for Hermione but she doesn’t need braces.”

—Walnut Change

“We decided to set Hogwarts in Ireland instead of Scotland.”

–Walnut Change (an unnecessary change, but a Walnut Change nonetheless)

“We decided to give Harry a spunky kid brother because there was a kid brother in Jurassic World and everyone loves a kid brother.”

–Baking Soda Change

Read the rest of Carter’s argument here, and consider it as you work on your abstracts by the September 30th deadline!

Upcoming presentations on comics: NeMLA and Dartmouth College

The last few weeks have been busy for me in considering comics and the superhero genre: I’m slowly working through a response to Netflix’s Daredevil (and the frustrating responses I have read regarding its representation of gender, and my frustration with a seeming lack of attention to its representations of race). And the next two weeks will be busy for me as well—not only because of Age of Ultron on Friday and Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, but also because I am presenting at two conferences on consecutive weekends.

I’m in Toronto this week for the 46th annual meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association. In addition to marketing the conference, including through our Facebook and Twitter pages, I have co-organized with Rafael Ponce-Cordero and Keith McCleary two sessions on “Comedy and Comics.” I also will present at one panel on my research of—and participation in—online satire centered around the superhero genre. “Comedy and Comics” begins Friday, May 1, at 3:00 PM. I have included the panels’ schedule and my abstract below.

The next weekend, I present on using Japanese animation and comics in the classroom at Dartmouth College’s Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference. I’m excited to share my experiences as a fan and a teacher of popular culture towards creating lesson plans, course web pages, and other content to more effectively teach about and teach with anime and manga. The conference’s schedule is available here, and my abstract is below as well.


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 and

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 ( and Derek McGrath (



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?

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.