CFP: Advancing Comics Theory

NeMLA 2022,
March, 10-13
Stichtag: 19.09.2021

Comics studies has been an established field long enough now to have consistent theoretical touchstones: Scott McCloud, Thierry Groensteen, and a handful of others. But much contemporary work on comics continues to rely on the same theoretical frameworks, returning to Understanding Comics over and over again. This session invites panelists to speculate on new directions for formal comics theory, leaving behind individual texts and close readings to ask for innovations our theories of comics as a medium. Of course, because of the abbreviated nature of conference papers, it will be impossible to put forward a fully-formed, all-encompassing new theory. Rather, panelists are asked to point out gaps, opportunities, and puzzles that can generate new work and enable us to push the field toward expansion.

Questions to consider might include: what is included or not included in “comics”? What do our existing theoretical frameworks fail to attend to? Are there other theoretical traditions that can be brought into conversation with comics in exciting new ways? What does comics studies miss by continuing to rely on the same formal definitions? What existing theories can and should be brought further to the forefront of comics studies? Do all comics work the same way? Can they all be subject to the same theories?

We particularly invite papers that focus on marginalized comics and theories, whether that marginalization is technical (webcomics, for instance), geographical (non-Anglophone and global South perspectives), or any other form of marginalization. Likewise, we welcome papers from presenters that themselves are members of marginalized groups.

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