CFP: German Graphic Novel I: Diversity and Inclusion

Forty-Second Annual Conference of the German Studies Association
September 27 - 30, 2018
Stichtag: 20.01.2018

Comics, like most expressive media in Western culture, have long been produced and controlled primarily by individuals belonging to dominant groups whose attributes established the parameters of “normal” experience: white, heterosexual, cisgender, able men. As a result, mainstream comics traditions—and even many of the more subversive underground comix—have tended to erase, neglect, pathologize, exploit, and/or malign the experience of individuals outside of these categories. In the 21st century, there is the expectation and demand by many that media should become more diverse and inclusive, reclaiming spaces of creation and representation for historically marginalized and underrepresented groups. The need for diversity and inclusion is all the more important in this political moment, when xenophobia is on the rise, white supremacy is increasingly normalized, and sexual harassment and violence are endemic to a wide range of cultural institutions, in Europe as well as in the United States.

Within the world of German-language comics, a number of artists and works have disrupted the historically homogeneous landscape. Non-native Germans like Yi Luo (Yinfinity), Sohyun Jung, and Hamed Eshrat have created acclaimed comics in German. PoC artists, including Mikiko Ponczeck, Judith Park, and Nana Yaa are fan-favorite exponents of German manga. Daniela Schreiter has used comics to describe life with autism, Reto Gloor has reflected on multiple sclerosis, and Roland Burkart has explored quadriplegia. Ralf König is an international star of the gay comics scene, while Sarah Barczyk and Suskas Lötzerich have created comics about transgender and intersex experiences. This panel will explore topics of diversity and inclusion (or challenges to the same) in German-language comics within the context of ongoing debates over identity, language, integration, accessibility, etc.

Possible topics include:

  • integration, assimilation, cultural identity
  • difference, Fremdheit, and their visual rendering
  • stereotypes, tokenism, exoticism, colonialism
  • cultural appropriation
  • representation of vs. representation by underrepresented groups
  • multiculturalism, pluralism
  • race, ethnicity, and racism
  • privilege
  • power, oppression, liberation
  • the authority of (German) language
  • gender and sexuality; misogyny, homophobia, transphobia
  • accessibility, disability, ableism
  • (mental) illness and related stigmas
  • religious freedom, religious prejudice
  • class difference; elitism, classism
  • tolerance vs. acceptance
  • political (in)correctness
  • intersectionality

Please send abstracts of approx. 300 words and a short biographical statement to Brett Sterling ( by January 20, 2018.

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