CfP: Comics and/as Rhetoric: (Anti)Static Narratives

Conference and Publication
2016 PCEA Conference
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
October 21-22, 2016
Deadline Publication: August 1, 2016 (completed Essays)
Stichtag: 01.03.2016

In the past several years comic books and graphic novels have gained increasing scholarly attention as literary, rhetorical, and pedagogical texts. MLA’s annual conference now includes panels sponsored by the Comics and Graphic Narratives Discussion Group; the most recent issues of Composition Studies and Works & Days address comics as multimodal texts; and comics scholarship in comic book form has multiplied. This year’s conference participates in and extends these lines of interest, inquiry, and practice by looking at the ways in which comics jump the gutters between narrative and rhetoric.

As classics scholar Anthony Boyle notes,  “the decision to write epic …  was in most cases never simply a poetic one,” and tracing the classical Roman reinterpretations of Homeric epic narrative, particularly in the transition from Virgil’s Aeneid to Lucan’s De Bello Civili, or the Pharsalia, reveals the rhetorical use of mythological allusion and narrative structure in constructing politically and culturally motivated views of history that served, in part, as critical commentary on Virgil’s and Lucan’s Rome. Antistasis, the rhetorical trope in which a word is repeated in a different or contrary sense, plays a key role in this commentary as it provides the requisite recontextualization necessary to challenge the original meaning and/or create new meaning. Antistatic allusion is also readily apparent in comics’ own long history of repurposing characters and plotlines from both classical Greco-Roman literature and the comic book universe, famously intersecting in the superhero comic book genre. An important parallel thus exists between the development of classical epic and comics, based not on the faithful representation of classical texts but on intentionally antistatic allusion to them.

We, therefore, seek proposals that address the ways in which comics have/can recontextualize narrative elements and structures, as well as the rhetorical significance of these recontextualizations.

While we are particularly interested in proposals that relate to this theme, we also invite submissions from faculty, graduate students, and independent scholars from all areas of English studies—literature, film, composition, professional writing, creative writing, linguistics, popular culture, criticism, etc. We also welcome the reading of original creative writing.

Please email abstracts (250 words for individual proposals; 500 for panel proposals) to Oriana Gatta ( and/or Gian Pagnucci ( by March 1, 2016.

Also, in conjunction with the 2016 PCEA Conference, Pennsylvania English, the journal of the Pennsylvania College English Association, invites 2,500 – 5,000 word essays on the interrelationship between comics and/or graphic novels and literature from any literary period in any literary genre. Critical essays that illuminate both traditional and comic/graphic literature are especially welcome.

Please submit completed essays in MLA format to Dr. John Marsden ( and Dr. Michael T. Williamson ( at before August 1, 2016.

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