Call for Papers for a Special Issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Title of Special Issue: Cripping Graphic Medicine: Approaching Comics from a Disability Studies Perspective

Guest Editors: Gesine Wegner (Leipzig University) and Dorothee Marx (Kiel University)

At first glance, a wider public may find the connection between comics and disability rather counterintuitive, as Rosemarie Garland-Thomson remarks: “Most of us assume that comics and disability exist in two completely different worlds. […] Comics are light; disability is heavy. Comics are inviting; disability is forbidding. Comics are cheerful; disability is dismal” (Garland-Thomson 2016: x). Yet, as a growing amount of scholarship in recent years has shown (Squier and Krüger-Fürhoff 2020; Foss et al. 2016), explorations of the connection between comics and disability can spark productive analyses that enrich both comic and disability studies. In a broader sense, graphic disability narratives hold the potential to simultaneously challenge popular misconceptions of comics and of experiences of disability. As a scoping review by Matthew N. Noe and Leonard L. Levin reveals, questions of healthcare have, indeed, pertained to the study of comics for many decades, with first explorations on the topic dating back to 1958 (Noe and Levin 2020: 11). While these early studies looked at disability and illness from a purely medical gaze, the 21st-century emergence of the interdisciplinary field of “graphic medicine” (Williams) has shifted scholars, artists and medical practitioners’ attention towards comics’ potential to narrate experiences of disability and illness from “the inside out” – following in the footsteps of disabled activists and writers of the 1990s (Fries 1997).

While disability studies has been an essential part of the various disciplines that come together in graphic medicine, the field’s complex yet fruitful relation to the medical humanities, in general, has yet to be addressed more openly in the study of comics and disability. This special issue wants to foreground the effects that a disability studies-centered approach to comics can have on the larger field of graphic medicine and comic studies in general. Inspired by Zach Whalen, Chris Foss, and Jonathan W. Gray’s groundbreaking collective volume Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives (2016), the issue aims to take into account and analyze a broad range of comics out of which a distinct disability studies perspective on comics ought to (further) emerge. Disability studies’ roots in the disability rights movement and its predominant resistance to medical understandings of disability make the interdisciplinary field a critical and

valuable interlocutor within graphic medicine. Appreciating disability not (primarily) as a physical state but as a form of cultural difference, disability studies is uniquely situated to both challenge and enrich some of the work done in graphic medicine and the medical humanities more generally. Simultaneously, the interdisciplinary network of scholars, artists, and medical practitioners that constitutes graphic medicine promises to offer new insights and creative forms of collaboration for research pursued within disability studies. For this issue, we welcome proposals for papers that explore these various potentials and address any of the following (or related) questions:

  • How do approaches from disability studies complicate and enrich work done at the intersection of comics and healthcare? What insights can, in turn, be gained in disability studies from research pursued at this intersection?
  • What can more recent theorizations within disability studies add to our understanding of the comics medium in general and its negotiation of disability and illness in particular?
  • How do comics about disability and illness relate to practices of normalization? For instance, how is the omnipresence of the body in comics used to enforce, challenge, and comment on notions of “the normal” (McRuer 2014)?
  • How do the different, often hierarchical positions in healthcare settings complicate renderings of illness and/or disability in comics? Which distinct, contrasting perspectives emerge in narratives told by healthcare providers, caregivers, or relatives, compared to the graphic stories told by patients themselves? And where do these perspectives overlap and enrich each other?
  • How do questions of disability in sequential art intersect with other identity categories, such as gender, race, class or sexuality (see for example the recent publication Graphic Reproduction (Johnson 2018))?
  • Which affective strategies do comics about disability or illness employ? How do comics evoke different affects and/or emotions, perhaps even such that were previously debated in disability studies (cf. Donaldson and Prendergast 2011; Kafer 2016), e.g. the “feelings and reactions— […] the mental and emotional distress—that do not yet fit within disability studies?” (Kafer 2016: 5).
  • Which comic-specific strategies do graphic narratives employ to visualize ‘invisible’ disabilities, such as mental disabilities or the effects of trauma? To what extent can comics provide a context that fosters explorations of the interconnectedness of disability and trauma?
  • How can comics’ potential to engage conversations about disability and chronic illness be applied in (higher) education beyond graphic medicine’s application in the education of future medical staff? Can comics help engage new audiences with disability studies?
  • What effect do different genre conventions have on narrating disability and/or illness in comics? How can, for instance, previous work on disabled superheroes (Alaniz 2015; Smith and Alaniz 2019) be further expanded?
  • How can comics be made accessible to different audiences (e.g. through tactile comics or image descriptions? (cf. Foss et al. 2016: 8-9).
  • How can comics foreground marginalized voices in healthcare, such as those of indigenous, BiPOC, trans*, intersex, and/or otherwise impacted patients and healthcare professionals?
  • In what ways do comics as well as comics studies address questions of the body and take into account the different embodiments of their characters and readers? How do new approaches to the body in disability studies (Mitchell et al. 2019) relate to the study of graphic narratives of disability and/or illness?
  • How do comics respond to other aspects of lived disabled experience and the distinct knowledge it creates, as theorized in crip theory (e.g. crip time, critical rethinkings of concepts like pleasure and pain)?

We explicitly welcome contributions that are based in experiential knowledge and/or use an autoethnographic approach to disability.

Please email a 500-word proposal to gesine.wegner@tu-dresden.de and marx@anglistik.uni- kiel.de by February 1, 2021.

Contributors can expect to be selected and notified by March 1, 2021. Full drafts of the selected articles will be due on August 15, 2021. Please do not hesitate to contact the guest editors if you have any questions regarding this special issue.

WORKS CITED

Alaniz, José. Death, Disability, and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond. University Press of Mississippi, 2014.

Alaniz, José and Scott T. Smith, editors. Uncanny Bodies. Superhero Comics and Disability. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2019.

Donaldson, Elizabeth J., and Catherine Prendergast. “Introduction: Disability and Emotion: ‘There’s No Crying in Disability Studies.’” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies vol. 5 no. 2, 2011, pp. 129–36.

Foss, Chris, Jonathan W. Gray, and Zach Whalen, editors. Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives. Palgrave, 2016.

Fries, Kenny, editor. Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. Plume, 1997. Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Foreword.” In: Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives, edited by Chris Foss, Jonathan W. Gray, and Zach Whalen. Palgrave, 2016, pp. x-xiii.

Jenell Johnson, editor. 2018. Graphic reproduction. A comics anthology. Vol. 11 of Graphic medicine. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Kafer, Alison. “Un/Safe Disclosures: Scenes of Disability and Trauma.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies vol. 10, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1–20.

McRuer, Robert. “Normal” Keywords for American Cultural Studies, edited by Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler. NY UP, 2014, pp. 184-187.

Mitchell, David T., Susan Antebi, and Sharon L. Snyder, editors. The Matter of Disability. Materiality, Biopolitics, Crip Affect. U Michigan P, 2019.

Noe, Matthew N. and Leonard L. Levin. “Mapping the use of comics in health education: A scoping review of the graphic medicine literature.” Graphic Medicine. https://www.graphicmedicine.org/mapping-comics-health-education/

Squier, Susan and Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff, editors. PathoGraphics: Narrative, Aesthetics, Contention, Community. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2020.

Williams, Ian. “Graphic Medicine: Comics as Medical Narrative.” Medical Humanities, vol. 38, no. 1, 2012, pp. 21-27.

CfP: Beyond the Two Solitudes in the Canadian World of Comics

CRCL/RCLC (Canadian Review of Comparative Literature)
Peer-reviewed international journal

In 1945, Hugh MacLennan, novelist and professor at McGill University, published his second novel Two Solitudes in Toronto. The book rose in popularity very quickly, and took root in the Canadian imagination to express the (lack of) dialogue between the two foundational Canadian communities (the only ones recognized at that time). Cultural productions in French were rarely consumed by Anglophones or influenced by them, and reciprocally. Also, often criticized, this idiom does not take into account the Indigenous cultures, rich and diverse, that have contributed to Canadian culture.

Canadian comics, whether they are Anglophone, Francophone or Indigenous, are no exception and evolved on parallel tracks without weaving common links. Anglo-Canadian comics were mostly influenced by American comics, and Francophone BD were under the influence of the Franco-Belgian tradition. Essays dealing with Canadian comics rarely integrate the three comics traditions. If many academic and non-academic publications deal with this concept of two solitudes in various fields like literature and movies, surprisingly, nothing has been written on the topic of isolation in the Canadian comics world.

We are looking for papers that analyse examples of dialogue (or the absence thereof) between these various “solitudes” (Indigenous, Francophone, and Anglophone), whether it is on the content, or the form between two or three works. But we are also looking for proposals studying the other aspects of the comics world, such as the initiatives and roles of libraries, bookstores, fans, publishers, festival organizers, prize committees, …

The following list of topics is not exhaustive:

  • Study of one specific comic or BD which itself addresses bi-or multi-cultural issue.s through content and/or forms
  • Comparison of one comic and one BD and their mutual influences
  • Some exceptional movements and/or genres where exchanges are more obvious like the superhero genre (e.g., Capitaine Kébec) or the alternative comics/BD (e.g., Doucet)
  • Study of publishers’ strategies to welcome the “other” comics tradition -study of festivals and their policies of welcoming (or not) the other linguistic or cultural traditions through awards, spaces, invitations of authors, …
  • Quantitative and historical study of comics awards or literary, artistic awards to comics in Canada
  • Study of awards to Canadian comics outside Canada and the way they are presented as Canadian
  • Study of the place Canadian artists had and have in other traditions/cultures (e,g., Tamaki in Japan [see J. Berndt])
  • Analysis of one comic or BD by Indigenous artists and their way of emphasizing (or denouncing) the (non) dialogue
  • Study of courses on comics in Canada and their inclusion (or exclusion) of the other tradition.s (see J-P. Thomas)
  • Study of courses on comics outside Canada and their inclusion of Canadian comics of various traditions
  • Study of courses on Canadian culture and its inclusion of Canadian comics

Please send an abstract of 300-400 words in French or English outlining your central argument, main academic references and a 100-word bio-bibliography

To :

By December 22, 2020; answer by January 22, 2021 Full paper between 6000 and 8000 words will be due by May 21, 2021 Tentative publication in 2022 in CRCL/RCLC (Canadian Review of Comparative Literature), a peer-reviewed international journal.
Sylvain RheaultDepartment of FrenchUniversity of ReginaRegina (SK) S4S 0A2306-585-4317sylvain.rheault@uregina.ca

Comics and Society: Research, Art, and Cultural Politics

Comics and Society: Research, Art, and Cultural Politics (2019-2021) is an interdisciplinary three-year initiative that aims to cultivate our understanding of comics as a social and socially defined phenomenon and to strengthen the status of comic art and comics scholarship in the Nordic-Baltic region. Through academic discussion, artistic work, and social engagement we explore how comics take part in making sense of societies, social phenomena, and societal changes especially, but not exclusively, in the Nordic and Baltic countries.

The CFP for our final winter session has been published! We will collaborate with Circle 4: Narrative and Violence in March 2021. See the CFP here (or download as a pdf).

Colloquium on Morals, Faith, and Religion in Superhero-Discourses

The re-scheduled colloquium “Morals, Faith and Religion in the Superhero Discourse” 
will take place on March 13 and 14, 2021, at “The Wolfsburg” in Muelheim /Ruhr (Germany) and online.

We invite all scholars – especially students, PhD students and post-docs – to send in proposals for individual papers or more experimental approaches such as workshops, reading groups, discussions etc. Contributions will be presented at a colloquium at the Wolfsburg (Mülheim an der Ruhr) on March 13th and 14th, 2021.

Submit suggestions for contributions before December 7, 2020 at latest. Young projects in initial phases, initial project ideas, junior scientists and students are as well very welcome to be part of this event.

Indicative themes for discussion may include but are not limited to:

• Religious symbolism and its significance
• Faith as a defining quality of a character
(Daredevil, Nightcrawler, Father Jordan)
• Transfer of religious characters
(Thor, Loki, Ares)
• Religious texts and rituals as sources
• Divinity, pseudo-divinity and narratives of faith and salvation
(Superman and other figures of salvation)
• Religious locations and institutions and their representation in comics (St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Asgard)
• Representations of angels, demons, witches and devils
(The Joker as a representation of the devil, Hellboy, Scarlet Witch)
• (Coping with and negotiating) experiences of (Jewish) diaspora
(Shuster / Siegel)
• Intersectionality / diversity
(Daredevil’s othering as a Catholic in protestant America)

We also made all arrangements to make sure that the event can take place either in person, online or hybrid. Please include (in the mail or the proposal) if, following Covdi-19 restrictions, you will present in person or online only.

We are looking forward to your proposals!
Organizing Chairs
Dr. Torsten Caeners (torsten.caeners@uni-due.de)
Gaspers M.A. (nicolas.gaspers@uni-duesseldorf.de)
Dr. Matthias Keidel (Matthias.Keidel@bistum-essen.de)
We aim to publish the papers in an edited volume.

Call for Papers: Gothic and Comics — Gothic Studies Special Issue 25(3)

Guest Editors: Julia Round and Susanne Schwertfeger

Comic books are as transgressive in nature as the Gothic. The comics medium traverses the boundaries of sign systems because of its composition of images and words. Comics are uncanny and liminal: their visual narrative’s iconic-sequential logic makes the obvious seem strange, and time and space merge into one as (temporal) sequences spread out in front of the reader on the (spatial) site. Pages are haunted as images and icons are echoed and repeated; identity is destabilized as voices and perspectives become fragmented and multiple, and the narratives themselves are partial and obscure. In addition, the comics medium has been consistently discredited as harmful or trivial with no intellectual credibility. From their shared roots in penny dreadfuls and pulp publishing, to their modern incarnations as wildly popular cult franchises, the comics medium and the Gothic mode therefore seem to be a perfect match.

Both horror and Gothic always have been thematic staples for the comics market and, in turn, comics have added significant themes and subjects to the Gothic – whether from the early portfolio of the publisher EC or in the form of a cape-wearing dark crusader. This proposed special issue on Gothic and Comics (25/3, to be published November 2023) will explore how comics tell and enhance Gothic stories.
We invite papers that investigate the intersections of comics and Gothic in historical, thematic, cultural, structural, formalist or other terms. Suggested themes might include (but are not limited to) the following:

• What strategies do comics use to achieve terror or horror, or to convey key Gothic themes such the abject, the uncanny, and the grotesque?
• What roles do Gothic motifs such as masks, doubles and Others play in comics and their history?
• What can comics add to the meaning and experience of ‘classic’ Gothic tales when adapted into a new medium?
• How might comics narratologies be considered Gothic?
• What structural, linguistic or visual qualities of comics speak to the Gothic, and how?
• Analyses of relevant historical subgenres of comics or the appearance of Gothic archetypes
• Explorations of Gothic themes such as trauma, social commentary, paranoia, monstrosity

Please send detailed proposals of 500 words and a 100 word biography to jround@bournemouth.ac.uk
and
schwertfeger@kunstgeschichte.uni-kiel.de
by 1 March 2021.

Informal enquiries may also be sent to the editors at these addresses.
Contributors will be notified of the outcome by 1 June 2021. The deadline for submission of completed draft articles (c.6000 words) will be 1 March 2022.

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

Malmö Comics Research Lab at Skillinge Comics Festival 2020

Official poster by Moa Romanova (image) och Kalle Mattsson (typography) 2020.

A panel of 3 lectures + discussion on comics research (live – via Zoom)

On Friday September 11th, Malmö Comics Research Lab will present research in progress. Jakob Dittmar will discuss documentary narration in Charlie Christensens comics, Saskia Gullstrand will give her view on comics and artistic research and Gunnar Krantz will talk about the praxis of  inking. The panel will be followed by a discussion with comics artists participating in the exhibitions at the festival.
The panel will take place between 10 to 12 AM, followed by a discussion at 13.30 to 15 PM.

For more info about the festival, please visit the official website:
https://seriefestival.wordpress.com/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/skillingeseriefestival

Recorded seminars (more will follow):

Gunnar Krantz – introduction:
https://play.mau.se/media/t/0_607uuwm2

Saskia Gullstrand on comics and artistic research:
https://play.mau.se/media/t/0_5w66y9c6

Gunnar Krantz on the praxis of inking:
https://play.mau.se/media/t/0_jpt8gh6j

Comics Research at Malmö university

Comics Research at MaU is combining artistic research and approaches that utilise analytic methods from diverse subjects (currently mostly Literature, Visual Communication, Cultural Studies, Science of Arts, Media and Communication Studies). 

The focus of our comics research is on narratives and how they are executed, how visual and textual elements are interlinked to be read. While theories and analyses of specific examples allow us to understand much about comics, some issues and theories need to be tested in application, productions. While artistic research allows us to advance our understanding of comics production and the expression of distinct voices, reflections on experimental productions allow us to question specific aspects of comics theory and develop theories further.