CFP: GSA Comics Studies Network Panel Series: Body and Embodiment

German Studies Association Forty-Sixth Annual Conference
Houston, Texas,
September 15-18, 2022
Stichtag: 15.02.2022

Comic art has always been invested in the representation of bodies. As Hillary Chute argues, comics as a medium is uniquely suited to materialize the lived experiences of authors: due to its intimate, handmade nature, comics is “a way to put the body on the page” (2010, p. 10). While comics studies and fandom have historically focused on deformed, grotesque, super/transhuman and otherwise extraordinary bodies, more recent developments in comics are revealing new opportunities to represent bodies of all kinds. Moreover, with “pictorial embodiment … always a profoundly social and political activity” (El Refaie, 2012, p. 73), the comics form also functions as a compelling tool for teaching on identity’s complex and embodied web of intersecting social positions, including race, sexuality, nation of origin, gender, and ability.

Graphic autobiography, for instance, engages the sociocultural categories of identity that underpin body image, including sex, gender, health, and beauty, while graphic medicine is capable of communicating experiences of living with disease and chronic illness difficult to articulate through words alone. Then, comics on disability reveal how ability itself is constructed through social, political, economic, medical, and cultural apparatuses via the representation of embodied experience. Finally, graphic journalism shifts the usual focus of media campaigns on forced migration to tell stories about the complex issues facing refugees from a single person’s perspective, empowering the typical objects of media representation to become the embodied subjects of their own narratives.

This panel series approaches issues of the body and embodiment in German-language comics and graphic novels from three perspectives: research, teaching, and activism. We invite panel presentations that consider how graphic narratives are well suited to represent the body and issues of embodied difference as well as how comics and graphic novels intervene in discourses of the body in terms of culture, media representation, and the law. Finally, we solicit panel presentations on how comics shed new light on everyday embodied experiences.

Potential topics include:

  • Reproductive rights
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, and child loss
  • (Dis)ability
  • Graphic embodiment and representations of the self
  • Bodily autonomy
  • Graphic medicine and experiences of health and illness
  • Cyborgs and the limits of “humanity”/the human
  • Subjectivity
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Monstrosity, deformity, and normative conceptions of the body
  • Racialized bodies
  • The body as organism

Please send a 350-word abstract and short bio by February 15th, 2022, to Biz Nijdam ( and John Benjamin (