Cultural Functions of Caricature and Cartoonisation: Histories of Representational Correspondence and Ideology

Call for Abstracts

Panel at the 15th World Congress of Semiotics,
»Semiotics in the Lifeworld«, Thessaloniki, Greece, 2022,

Convened by Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard, University of Cologne, Germany,

Please submit your abstract directly to Prof. Packard by **March 31st**. 
Paper abstracts should include: Name/Affiliation/e-mail of 
participant(s), Title, Abstract (200-250 words) and Keywords (up to 5).

Keywords: representational correspondence, ideology, cartoon, 
caricature, comic.

Caricature and cartoon – depictions of bodies and spaces that are reduced to few exaggerated, simple contours – are fundamentally historical phenomena, their functions situated in the lifeworld of the cultures that employ them. But research into cartoonish artforms and genres has rarely engaged with the cultural and historical diversity of the cartoon, wrongly taking the aesthetics of the modern European caricature for granted.

This panel invites discussion into the vast and varied cultural and historical array of cartoonised aesthetics, while narrowly focusing analysis on its most striking semiotic dimensions – those connected to the principle that Gregory Currie described as representational correspondence (2010): »for a given representational work, only certain features of the representation serve to represent features of the things represented«. Understood in this narratological approach as a license or accommodation for representation, the negotiable validity of some of the semiotic resources offered in a cartoonish picture invites debate and critique from pragmatic, ethical, and political points of view. Are stereotypical anamorphoses such as an enlarged nose, sharpened teeth, or exaggerated bosoms mere traditional and comical schemata without further reference, or do they denigrate, emphasize, connote, and reproduce hegemonic relations?

So far, even the most obvious connections to the traditions of European anti-semitic and colonial racist gazes have rarely been systematically analyzed (cf. Gray 2004), and deeper considerations of gender and class have been mostly focused on some of the most recent popular artforms (cf. e.g. Nolan 2008, Madrid 2016) and have yet to realize the analytical and explicatory potential of a dedicated semiotic study. The ideologies nested in the semiotic third space (Packard 2006, 2016; Wilde 2020) afforded between the reference and the exaggeration of the cartoon deserve greater and semiotically precise scrutiny.

Call for Papers: Caricatures and Satire in a Global Perspective: 1850–1950

University of Bonn,
Institute for Oriental and Asian Studies, Department for Islamic Studies and Near Eastern Languages
Organizers: Dr. Anna Kollatz, Dr. Veruschka Wagner
Date: 15–16 Dec. 2022, Bonn

The century between 1850 and 1950 can be described, in a global perspective, as a century of transitions. During these years, a multitude of profound changes hit the world in many ways, such as in political, social and societal dimensions. Modernization processes, new concepts of education, the discussion of women’s rights and participation in political decision-making are just a few examples. The period is also strongly influenced by Western colonialism and imperialism, at least in its beginnings, while also seeing emancipation movements against these hegemonies.
In this very fluid transition period, which was of course also marked by conflicts, discourses emerged that were conducted with similar themes and similar communication media in different parts of the world, but also in global exchange. Among others, this period saw a veritable boom in satirical journals that addressed the mentioned transformative strands and conflicts, notably also by caricatures.
This conference ventures into taking stock of satirical discourses communicated in caricatures in a transcultural, comparative way. We invite colleagues from a wide range of disciplines to present case studies and engage in dialogue across disciplinary boundaries.
The conference will be organized along the following thematic lenses:

Comparing Style and Content:
Figures and stereotypes
Painting techniques
Text-Context relations in (satire) journals

Functions and Objectives of Caricatures as:
Criticizing tools
Educative tools
Entertainment (with a hidden agenda)

Thematic Strands:
Discussing modernization and progress
Technological utopia and dystopia
Gender questions
Political and social questions

Proposals may be sent to until March 15, 2022. Abstracts (roughly 200 words) should describe the proposed paper/panel, including topic, method, and used sources. Comparative papers/panels that examine a fixed topic in transcultural perspective (two or more regions, languages, etc. involved) are especially welcome.

CFP : Influences and Transfers Between the World of Francophone BD and the World of German-speaking comics (19th to 21st c.)

New Deadline: 28.2.2022

[French version below]

Comics are a genuinely transnational medium (Denson/Meyer/Stein 2014). They are not merely products of uniform national or linguistic communities, but they are also shaped by cross-border relations, transfers and circulations. This applies in particular to French- and German-speaking graphic storytelling. 

The goal of this special issue that will be published in The Journal of Comics and Culture is to study Franco-German relations in the world of comics/BD. A huge corpus on the study of these relations exists already but mostly, if not exclusively, in the field of high culture. Using the concept of transfer, we want to study how these transfers happened in the world of BD/Comics.

The following ideas are simple suggestions and are not exhaustive:

Was Busch’s work read in France (and in Belgium, Switzerland?) ? And which translations, legal or not, circulated in French? Was Vater und Sohn d’e.o.plauen in the 1930s read in Alsace-Lorraine and how was it interpreted? Some Germanophone comic artists (e.g., Schultheiss) emigrated to France and/or Belgium to publish their BD. Who are these “emigrants”? and can we find common points among these Francophile comics artists? Both France and Germany experienced periods of anti-Americanism. Did this influence the reception and image of Franco-Belgian and German comics respectively? What is the story of the translation of Astérix in German-speaking countries? (by the publisher Kauka; and in Austria? In East Germany?) Was there/what was the influence of the French ‘avant-gardiste’ comics group around L’Association on the German-speaking Comic Worlds? Was there a difference between the reception of francophone comics in East and West Germany? Were East German comic artists welcomed differently than the ones from West Germany? What to say about comics exhibitions in the Goethe-Institute in France? Did Germany and/or Austria organize expositions on francophone BDs (Where? When? Why? What was shown and what was not?). Does German-language research on comics/BD have regular or institutional contact with research in France and other francophone countries? What types? Zep had an enormous success in France. What about in Germany? Was/Has he been more successful in Switzerland because he is Swiss? Which French-language BD were published in German journals? Were some issues translated and published in France? And which German comics were translated into French and why?

Please send a 300-word proposal including your methodological-theoretical perspective, and a 100-word bio-bibliography to: , , & .

Deadlines: send proposals by Feb. 28, 2022; reply acceptance: March 15; full 6000-word article: mid-Jul. 2022; evaluation and feedback end of Jul.; finished version mid-Dec. 2022; send full issue to journal for evaluation in Jan.; reply from the journal, with new possible editing: about 4-5 months in 2023; publication in The Journal of Comics and Culture end of 2023.

Appel à participation : Influences et transferts entre le monde de la BD francophone et le monde des comics germanophones (19e au 21e s.)

Les BD sont véritablement un média transnational (Denson/Meyer/Stein 2014). Elles ne sont pas simplement des produits venant de communautés nationales ou linguistiques uniformes mais elles sont aussi informées par des relations, transferts et circulations transfrontalières. Ceci s’applique en particulier aux récits graphiques en langues française et allemande.

Le but de ce numéro spécial est d’étudier les relations franco-allemandes dans le monde de la BD. Nous aidant du concept de transfert développé dans le domaine de la littérature comparée entre ces deux zones linguistiques, nous nous proposons d’étudier comment ces transferts se sont faits dans le monde des BD/Comics. 

Les pistes ci-après sont de simples propositions et ne sont pas exhaustives: Quelles traductions en français de l’œuvre de Busch, légales ou pas, ont circulé? Quelle est l’histoire de la traduction d’Astérix en pays germanophones? Quels comics allemands furent traduits en français et pourquoi? Un certain nombre de bédéistes germanophones (e.g., Schultheiss) ont émigré en France et/ou en Belgique pour publier leurs BD. Qui sont ces « émigrants »? Et peut-on trouver des points communs entre ces bédéistes francophiles? Vater und Sohn d’e.o.plauen dans les années 1930 était-elle lue en Alsace-Lorraine et comment était-elle interprétée? Quelles BD furent publiées dans les magazines de langue allemande? Des numéros de ces magazines furent-ils traduits en France? La France et l’Allemagne ont eu des périodes d’anti-Américanisme. Cela a-t-il eu une influence sur la réception et l’image des BD Franco-Belges et des comics allemands respectivement? Y a-t-il eu une différence entre la réception des BD francophone en Allemagne de l’Est et de l’Ouest ? Les bédéistes de la RDA ont-t-ils été accueillis différemment de ceux/celles de la RFA? Que dire des expositions BD/Comics du Goethe-Institut en France? L’Allemagne et/ou l’Autriche a-t-elle organisé des expositions sur la BD francophones? La recherche sur la BD/comics en pays germanophones a-t-elle des contacts réguliers, institutionnels avec celle de France et des pays francophones? Zep a été un immense succès en France. Et en Allemagne, comment fut-il reçu? A-t-il eu plus de succès en Suisse allemande parce que l’auteur est suisse?

Envoyez-nous une proposition de 300 mots, incluant votre perspective méthodologique et théorique, et une bio-bibliographie de 100 mots, à : , ,, et .

Dates-limites: Réception des propositions pour le 28 février 2022; réponse: 15 mars 2022; article complet: 15 juillet 2022; évaluation et commentaires: fin juillet 2022; version finale: mi-déc. 2022; envoi du numéro complet à la revue : fin jan. 2023; évaluation par la revue : ~4-5 mois en  2023; possibles nouvelles corrections ; publication dans la revue The Journal of Comics and Culture fin 2023.

HISTORY IN COMICS CONFERENCE and WORKSHOP Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic, Sept. 12-16, 2022

Representing History in/as Comics: Ethics and Choice

We are hosting a 5-day combined conference, with traditional paper presentations and workshops, as well as round table discussions and practical workshop sessions, to address questions of ethics and choice in the depiction of history, the use of history, or historicizing elements appearing in graphic novels, comic books, comic strips, editorial cartoons, and newer forms of image/text such as webcomics and Internet memes. We welcome a broad interpretation of the topic, to be examined by scholars and comics creators alike. This event will take place in blended form, with both in-person and remote options for participation. Students and doctoral candidates receive 3 ECTS credits for their participation, and there will be no registration fees.

We now invite proposals for 20-minute PAPERS for the conference part of the event. Possible themes include, but are not limited to:
• Regional history in comics • Significant historical events • Representation of perpetrators • Family history • Big history • Ethics and the Anthropocene • Natural history and the history of humans in nature • War and conflict • National mythologies • Biographical and autobiographical comics • Comics journalism • Documentary comics • Ethical concerns of the comics format • Artistic choice in representation • Multimodality and ethics • Comics used in teaching history.

We are also accepting proposals for other types of submissions:

● For the round table discussions, please submit up to three question proposals to be addressed by the round tables, related (but not limited) to the themes above. Please include the term “ROUND TABLE QUESTIONS” in your email subject line.

● Posters, especially welcome for students or first-time conference participants, on any of the themes listed above. Please include the term “POSTER SESSION” in your email subject line. Please submit your question proposals, paper proposal (200 words or less), along with a short biography (100 words or less) by email to by April 1st 2022. Please specify if you anticipate attending in person or remotely.
In the case of pandemic restrictions, the event will be moved fully online.

Keynote speaker and guests to be announced; please follow updates at

For further information please contact:
Elizabeth Allyn Woock:
Dragos Manea:
Mihaela Precup:
Ezster Szep:
Barbara Postema:
Johannes Schmid:

Organized by Palacky University and the Erasmus+ BIP project “History in Comics”

Call for Papers: Innovative Methods in Multimodal Comics Research

Zeitschrift für Semiotik, special issue edited by
Janina Wildfeuer, University of Groningen
Stephan Packard, University of Cologne

Please send a brief abstract of 500-1000 words to the editors by 15 July 2021:
Janina Wildfeuer ( and Stephan Packard (

From its earliest and experimental beginnings, comics research has engaged a fascination with semiotics: The interaction not merely of word and image, but among a manifold of images and other visual elements on the comic page has beckoned many researchers to investigate comics by looking at the way they use and mix signs of various kinds (Eco 1972, Krafft 1978, Eisner 1985, Barbieri 1990, McCloud 1993, Groensteen 1999, Magnussen 2000, Packard 2006, Cohn 2013). Often, these approaches followed a conceptual order most prevalent in structuralism and post-structuralism, working through the various shapes of comics with language serving as their point of departure and constant comparison – or struggling to move beyond such a paradigm.

It is no surprise, then, that the rise of multimodal semiotics and linguistics in the last three decades, building from Kress and van Leeuwen’s pioneering reading of images and the description of multimodal discourse (1996, 2001) and continuing through expansions and approaches towards systematization (Kress 2010, Jewitt 2014, Klug/Stöckl 2016, Bateman et al. 2017), has resulted in a number of new perspectives on comics, cartoons, graphic novels, and manga (including Lim 2007, Forceville 2010/2011, Cohn 2013, Bateman/Wildfeuer 2014, Cohn 2016, Dunst et al. 2018). With its interest in the different semiotic modes and resources that comics offer to their creators and audiences, multimodal analysis encompasses tools to describe the material basis, formal structure, and emerging semantics of traditional as well as experimental forms of graphic narrative, from the comic strip and comic book to webcomics and digital interactive formats.

Always already an interdisciplinary field, comics studies have offered a rich array of opportunities and challenges to investigations of multimodality, while at the same time perhaps failing to engage with the emerging methodologies broadly and across its many disciplines – it is still rare to see a multimodal analysis of a comics page outside dedicated publications, or beyond the realms of media linguistics. Even within the latter, a common state of the art remains undefined.

For this dedicated issue of the Journal of Semiotics, we want to bring together linguistic as well as inter- and transdisciplinary contributions engaging with the semiotic wealth of comics, continuing recent research with new challenges and solutions, and engaging in dialogue across the various approaches to the multimodality of comics. We seek to include both theoretical or methodological as well as more empirically- or corpus-oriented works. Contributions could deal with questions including, but not limited to, the following:
• how can we trace the establishment of cohesion and coherence across panel borders?
• how can we distinguish and describe the various semiotic domains (resources, modes) appearing within panels?
• how can we understand ways of perception and interpretation of the various elements on the comic page?
• how can we understand differences in visual semiotics between cultures, languages, genres, and styles – for example with the help of corpus analytical tools or empirical studies?
• how can the playful semantics of comics books be correlated to the heautonomic rules of the art form?

Please send a brief abstract of 500-1000 words by July 15, 2021, to the editors,
Janina Wildfeuer ( and Stephan Packard (

Feedback on abstracts will be provided by August 2021. Full text submissions of roughly 7.000 to 10.000 words are expected by the end of 2021. All contributions will be peer-reviewed. Publication is scheduled for early 2023.

Conference: Crisis Lines: Coloniality, Modernity, Comics (Wednesday, 9th June 2021)

Colonial modernity has materially reshaped our world through the force of the line. Epitomized in the modern cartographic map, the colonial line is deployed as a technology of delimitation and enclosure, often in relation to land, but also to seas and to skies. It is drawn across territories, fragmenting communities and framing populations, and prioritising occupation and ownership over habitation and presence. It authorizes borders, inscribing with pens and walls and satellites an imperial “visuality” onto the surface of the earth. Beginning in the slave plantation and settler colony, evolving through the heights of European imperialism, and calcifying into the military-media complex of our screen-oriented age, visuality has combined the lines of maps with other information-lines – treaties, bureaucracies, infrastructures, code – to contrive colonial modernity into a self-evident and indisputable reality.

However, while the colonial line extends into the present moment by controlling the very crises it has advertently created, it is not the only genre of line. As Tim Ingold has shown, lines can also trace modes and chart histories of resistance. There are hand-drawn lines, sketch lines, story lines, wayfaring lines; lines that carry counter-histories, that index the sway of rebellions lost and revolutions overturned. These lines orient positionalities and denote relationalities, both situating us on and habituating us into the world. As a gesture of encounter, they take place against structures of power, a ground from which “the right to look” might be claimed. This conference will explore the ways in which these lines are manifested and contested in comics, graphic novels, photo essays, zines, picture books, and other combinations of image and text.

Both days are open to artists, scholars, and members of the public, and both are free to attend.

You will need to register per session, registration link follows below. All sessions will take place online via Zoom, please ensure you have the most update version of Zoom installed as this will be required to join the parallel sessions.

Here is a link to the programme and registry information etc:

Plenty of time will be reserved for question and answer sessions, and we look forward to welcoming all delegates interested in constructive and respectful discussion of the conference themes.

Contemporary Nordic Comics Research Conference October 7- 8 2021 Malmö University

The contemporary Nordic comics scene is diverse and multifaceted. Classic characters from the 30s are still popular and exist side by side with avantgarde, feminist, and political comics. A mainstream Nordic comic could very well be represented by semi-autobiographical funny animals published in a daily newspaper; alternately we also find self-published manga and epic genres (noir, fantasy, horror). Twenty-five years ago, the situation was radically different. Many feared that comics would soon be obsolete due to the fast growth of digital media. Since then, however, both comics and comics research has undergone an almost explosive development in the Nordic region. This is especially noticeable in Malmö, branded as The City of Comics, with a rich infrastructure of comics-related initiatives including education, research, professional artists’ networks, publishing companies, comics organizations and The Swedish Comics Archive.

In recent years, academic interest in Nordic comics has also increased substantially, both in the Nordic countries and beyond, in disciplines such as comparative literature, media and communication studies, and art history, as well as within the emerging field of comic studies.

The Contemporary Nordic Comics Research Conference aims to present and discuss current research on Nordic comics, as well as share resources including academic networks, archives, and collaborative projects. A long-term goal is to contribute to the development of both research about Nordic comics and comics research in the Nordic countries through facilitating collaborations between comics researchers in the Nordic countries and researchers in other countries who are also interested in Nordic comics.

We therefor invite the submission of papers to the Contemporary Nordic Comics Research Conference at Malmö university.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
* Trends in Nordic comics
* Comparisons between comics in the Nordic countries and abroad´
* The role of comics in Nordic culture(s)´
* The history of Nordic comics
* Nordic comics viewed from abroad
* Comics and the Nordic welfare states
* Nordic comics in dialogue with the world

Please, send proposals of 250 words, plus a short biography to: and no later than March 15.

If the covid pandemic should make it impossible to host the conference in Malmö, it will take place online.

K3 Research Seminar: Saskia Gullstrand – Cinematic Storytelling in Comics

Film and comics share one very fundamental storytelling technique – the image montage, which offers the possibility to show the story to the reader through a sequence of images. Through artistic research, I’m investigating what montage strategies artists can use to create a cinematic flow in comics, and the effects it can have on the emotional involvement of the reader of narrative comics.

In this seminar, I’ll discuss what cinematic flow within comics narration can look like, with a focus on grid structure in page layout, the relationship between images and text and the use of dynamic “camera” perspectives and field sizes in the images. By combining my viewpoint as a comics creator and storyteller with academic comics theory, I want to conduct artistic research in comics that exists in dialogue with other forms of comics research, but also serve artists and their practices as storytellers.

This is work in progress. From the seminar, I’d like constructive critique on how to move forward, but also exchange ideas on how to create a dialogue on methods of artistic research between academia and comics artists, as well as an exchange of knowledge and perspectives on comics as an art form.  

November 18 at 10.00 AM (CET) on Zoom:

Pascal Lefèvre appointed honorary doctor at Malmö university

We are happy to announce that comics historian and theorist, Professor Pascal Lefèvre is appointed honorary doctor at the Faculty of Culture and Society. As the 2020 Annual Academic Ceremony has been postponed due to the pandemic, he is the only one appointed by the University this year.

“Professor Pascal Lefèvre is a pioneer in comics research. His work on the history and theory of this art form has been fundamental to the development of the research field in Europe, not least at our Faculty,” says Rebecka Lettevall, Dean of the Faculty of Culture and Society.

Continue reading here: Pioneer in comics research is appointed honorary doctor at Malmö University