CfP: Communities of Experience? A Symposium on Autobiographical Comics by Jewish Women

Conference: Wednesday 12 November 2014 JW3, The Jewish Community Centre London

Stichtag: 15. Mai 2014

Comics and graphic narratives are currently receiving substantial attention in popular culture and academic disciplines across the arts and humanities. The rise of genres such as graphic memoirs, graphic journalism and graphic histories, for example, indicates that the representation of lived experience in comics form has become central to explorations of individual and collective identities, and to the documentation of historical and social events. But how, if at all, does the representation of often deeply personal feelings and individual experiences connect to collective events and identities? Can we identify shared themes and concerns in the work of contemporary Jewish women comics artists? This interdisciplinary one-day symposium will put academics and cartoonists in dialogue with one another to discuss comics by and about Jewish women.

This event runs in conjunction with the opening of Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, at Space Station 65, Kennington (October- November 2014). Graphic Details has been touring since it opened in San Francisco in 2010 and then moved to Toronto, New York, Washington, Portland and Miami. This show is the first museum exhibit dedicated to the contribution Jewish women have made to the genre of autobiographical comic (see

The artists, who hail from the U.S., Canada, Israel and the UK include: Vanessa Davis; Bernice Eisenstein; Sarah Glidden; Miriam Katin; Aline Kominsky-Crumb; Miss Lasko-Gross; Sarah Lazarovic; Miriam Libicki; Sarah Lightman; Diane Noomin; Corinne Pearlman; Trina Robbins; Racheli Rotner; Sharon Rudahl; Laurie Sandell; Ariel Schrag; Lauren Weinstein; and Ilana Zeffren. Graphic Details is co-curated by Sarah Lightman and Michael Kaminer and is sponsored by The Jewish Daily Forward. Graphic Details: Essays on Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, edited by Sarah Lightman, will be published by McFarland in 2014.

The exhibition is complemented by the symposium, which provides a forum for sharing ideas, research and artwork: a space for dialogues both on and off the page, in both text and image. Confirmed participants include Dr. David Brauner (University of Reading) and Dr Ariela Freedman (Concordia University), and Graphic Details Artist Corinne Pearlman (Playing the Jewish Card). The day will conclude with a cartoonist roundtable open to the public.

We invite contributions for 20-minute papers that explore the intersections between Jewishness and other forms of identification and identity in comics and graphic narratives by women. Papers may address but are no limited to the following themes and issues :

 Literary & Cultural Contexts, e.g.

  • The role of women in Jewish comic storytelling and the traditions of Jewish literature
  • The role of comics by Jewish women in contemporary literature
  • The genres of confession, memoir, and autobiographical literature
  • Theoretical frameworks for reading Jewish women’s comics individually and collectively

Religion & Politics, e.g.

  •  Comic book writing about Israel and Palestine
  • Depictions of marriage, partnerships, and interfaith relationships
  • Portraying Judaism and religion in graphic detail
  • The cultural politics of heroes and villains

Gender, Sexuality & the Body, e.g.

  •  The “Jewish Body” and its transformations in comics
  • Gender identification in changing social and artistic discourses
  • Mothers, daughters, and other family dynamics reflected in graphic storytelling
  • Intimacy and sexuality; feminism and sexual politics
  • Representations of illness

Proposals for 20 minute papers or panels comprising three papers should be emailed by 15 May 2014 to the organizers Sarah Lightman, and Heike Bauer . Please include a 300-word abstract plus a short biographical note. You are welcome to submit images to supplement your abstract submission.

We are delighted to announce that Studies in Comics 6.2 (2015) will be specially dedicated to this conference and proceedings, and guest edited by Sarah Lightman and Heike Bauer.

This symposium is supported by JW3, The Jewish Daily Forward, Space Station 65, McFarland, Birkbeck College London, Stirling Maxwell Centre University of Glasgow, The Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies UCL and Studies in Comics (Intellect Publishing).

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