CfP: Jewish Culture and the Comic Book

Princeton University Conference
April 10, 2015
Stichtag: 15.12.2014

“Spiegelman prompts one to see the panel as a picture and a window, as an oxymoronic ‘picture window’ that must at once be looked at and looked through: looked at because its signifying surface does not simply efface itself, does not merely yield before the authority of a signified
reality or become a transparent means to an end outside itself; looked through because such ‘picture windows’ do open onto other windows, onto the abyssal depths of panes within panes.”
Michael G. Levine, “Necessary Stains: Spiegelman’s Maus and the Bleeding of History”

This one-day conference seeks to bring together scholars and artists to discuss the interchange of Jewish culture and the comic book. The  different panels will be followed by a roundtable featuring comic book authors Rutu Modan, Liana Finck, Miriam Katin and Miriam Libicki. A creative workshop will also be offered on Saturday morning following the conference.

The conference hopes to address the features particular to the comic book and how these features reflect and inflect, as well as reveal and conceal, Jewish traditions and identities.
Drawing on the shift initiated by the underground comix movement, the comic book has progressively questioned its own limits. And, if  comics are a “… window into the thinking process of the artist…,“ what can these significantly displaced, erased and contested “frame works” inform us about Jewish identity? How do the frames (and their subversions) of the comic book form offer a new window through which Jewish culture and Jewish identity can be understood? From the birth of the modern comic book (e.g., Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby)
to present-day representations of Jewishness (e.g., Spiegelman, Katin, Lasko-Gross); from Jewish-American superhero comics to domestic and international visions of Israel and the Jewish diaspora (e.g., Modan, Libicki, Drès, Sfar): this conference will focus on the question of what role Jews and Jewish culture play in the world of the comic book.

Sample Topics

  • The Golem and the superhero: Protection and replacement
  • “What if”: An alternative world through science-fiction comics
  • Representations of the Holocaust: Traumatic comics (Spiegelman, Katin, Drès, Modan)
  • Guilt in comics: From superheroes to the second generation of Holocaust survivors
  • Eisnershpritz and Spiegelmask: Exceeding and doubling the panel
  • Growing panes: Nostalgia and the Jewish experience
  • Israel: The domestic and international gaze
  • Origin stories
  • Family life in Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
  • Biocularity and autographics: Reading between the panels
  • From Abie the Agent to Twisted Sisters: What does Jewish humor look like?
  • Deep memory and its transmission
  • Structures of memory: Architecture as foundation
  • Jewish Women and the comic book
  • Klezmer and The Rabbi’s Cat: Exploring Jewish traditions/heritage

Scholars are invited to submit proposals for a twenty-minute paper presentation. Proposals should include a title, a 300-word abstract, the name of your affiliated institution and your contact information.
Submit proposals to Charlotte Werbe and Marie Sanquer at before December 15, 2014.

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