Guest Editors: Gesine Wegner (Leipzig University) and Dorothee Marx (Kiel University)
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 inparticular?
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com 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.
- 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.