CFP: GSA Comics Studies Network

German Studies Association 48th Annual Conference  
Atlanta, Georgia
September 26-29, 2024 
Stichtag: 25.02.2024

The interdisciplinary Comics Studies Network in the German Studies Association invites submissions to panels at this year’s conference in Atlanta, GA (September 26-29, 2024). Papers may be presented in either German or English. Accepted presenters must be members of the German Studies Association before March 17, 2024. Please send an abstract of 350-500 words and a short bio to the network co-organizers, Biz Nijdam ( and Brett Sterling (, by February 25, 2024.

Jubiläum: 10 Jahre Comicforschung auf der GSA-Tagung

In 2014, the first panel dedicated to German-language comics was held at the GSA conference in Kansas City. The panel, titled “German Comics: An Unturned Stone?”, featured papers on Flix’s Faust adaptation, feminist artist Anke Feuchtenberger, and Nicolas Mahler’s take on Thomas Bernhard’s Alte Meister. In the ten years since, Comics Studies has been represented at every GSA conference, with panels and roundtables on topics ranging from history, adaptation, and pedagogy to gender and sexuality, language and form, social justice, and transnational influences in comics. Since officially establishing an interdisciplinary research network in 2018, members have collaborated across the GSA with the Asian German Studies, Black Diaspora Studies, Queer and Trans Studies Networks and across the Atlantic with members of the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung, AG Comicforschung, and Österreichische Gesellschaft für Comic-Forschung und -Vermittlung. In recognition of the stellar work the network has hosted, we are soliciting papers on a variety of topics that take stock of the field, reconsider past convictions, and/or chart new directions.

Potential topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Gender, race, and sexual representation both within (German-language) comics and among (German-language) comics artists
  • Seminal works of German-language comics theory and scholarship (e.g., Martin Schüwer’s Wie Comics erzählen, Ole Frahm’s Die Sprache des Comics, Monika Schmitz-Emans’s Literatur-Comics, etc.) in the context of international Comics Studies
  • German-language comics as industry and scene (e.g., comics fandoms, professionalism vs. amateurism, publishing, the nascent Comic Gewerkschaft, reception and funding of comics, etc.)
  • German-language comics beyond the FRG: Switzerland, Austria, the former GDR, and beyond
  • The materiality of comics, intermediality, and comics’ relationship to visual and narrative arts
  • Conceptions and forms of genre in German-language comics
  • German-language comics’ position in the transnational field of international comics
  • Comics beyond the printed page (e.g., webcomics, comics and social media, live drawing, etc.)
  • Is there something “German/Austrian/Swiss” about German-language comics? Tracing traditions and influences
  • Comics as vehicles for oral history and the relationship between the spoken word and drawn images
  • Comics and critical fabulation (Saidiya Hartman)
  • Comics and posthumanism
  • Comics and ecocriticism
  • Comics between mainstream and countercultures

Anke Feuchtenberger Revisited 

Anke Feuchtenberger (East Berlin, 1963) has been an innovator of German comic art since her appearance on the united German art scene in the early 1990s. Alongside fellow artists, she brought the experimental aesthetics of the East German avant-garde to bear on comic art after German Unification. Feuchtenberger thereby redefined the potentials of the comics form through her engagement with diverse sources and new techniques, garnering international attention for German comics after 1989.

However, Feuchtenberger is an important figure in the German comics scene even beyond her artistic production. Since 1997, Feuchtenberger has worked as Professor of Drawing and Media Illustration at the Hamburg Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (HAW), where she continues to train the next generation of German comics artists, fostering their inclination towards intense metaphor, surrealism, and fantasy in their graphic narratives.

In September 2023, Feuchtenberger published her long-awaited semi-autobiographical comic Genossin Kuckkuck (2023), which became the centrepiece of an exhibition and symposium celebrating her life and work during the Comicfestival Hamburg. The programming culminated with the City of Hamburg awarding Feuchtenberger with the Senator-Biermann-Ratjen-Medaille, recognizing her for her 25 years of teaching at the HAW and for her continued innovation and relevance as an artist.

The GSA Comics Studies Network is excited to similarly take this opportunity to revisit and celebrate the work of Anke Feuchtenberger. Broadly conceived, this panel solicits conference presentations that interrogate Feuchtenberger’s teaching, graphic art, and influence on contemporary comics.

Of Perpetrators and Victims: Comics and the Holocaust

The publication of Art Spiegelman’s Maus between 1980 and 1991 (dt. 1989, 1991) marked a watershed moment in the history of international comics. Though not the first comic to approach the Holocaust, Spiegelman’s (auto)biographical account of his parents’ experiences in the Auschwitz extermination camp incited controversy and ultimately established comics as a medium capable of engaging with serious topics, including the mass genocide of the Holocaust. In the decades since, Holocaust comics have emerged as an international genre within the medium, ranging from works of historical research to speculative fiction in numerous languages and cultural traditions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, German-language comics have not been as quick or as enthusiastic in their embrace of the Holocaust as a subject for depiction in comics. An early example, Friedemann Bedürftig and Dieter Kalenbach’s Hitler (1989), attempted to create a detached reckoning with Hitler’s enduring cult of personality, pairing the texts of a historian with photorealistic drawings tinged with symbolic flourishes. Until the 2010s, though, Bedürftig and Kalenbach’s “Bilderbogen” remained an outlier in the German-language comics landscape.

Many works of German-language comics have dealt with the Holocaust obliquely, as a phenomenon looming largely unseen in depictions of Nazi Germany. Some comics have focused rather on instances of German resistance, like in the biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Moritz Stetter – Bonhoeffer, 2010) and Sophie Scholl (Ingrid Sabisch/Heiner Lünstedt – Sophie Scholl, 2015), and Jochen Voit and Hamed Eshrat’s based-on-a-true-story historical comic Nieder mit Hitler! (2018). Other comics have attempted an autobiographical reckoning with their own family histories, trying to trace down and come to terms with Nazi sympathizers and perpetrators among their relatives, like Volker Reiche’s Kiesgrubennacht (2013), Nora Krug’s Heimat. Ein deutsches Familienalbum (2018), Regina Hofer and Leopold Maurer’s Insekten (2019), and Bianca Schaalburg’s Der Duft der Kiefern (2021), or Barbara Yelin’s fictional but family inspired Irmina (2014). Fewer German-language comics have dealt directly with the Holocaust and Jewish victims, and those that have have taken disparate approaches to depicting their experiences, from Reinhard Kleist’s dynamic biography of Auschwitz survivor Hertzko Haft (Der Boxer, 2012), to Caroline Gille and Niels Schröder’s meticulous biography of Jewish jazz musician Coco Schumann, I Got Rhythm (2014). Recently, these works have been joined by two pieces of unique collaborative testimony between survivors and artists: the international project Aber ich lebe (2022), featuring Canadian, Israeli, and German artists, and Barbara Yelin’s Emmie Arbel. Die Farbe der Erinnerung (2023), which emerged from the former project.

This panel calls for papers exploring recent German-language comics on the Holocaust. Topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • The concepts of witnessing and testimony, and their representation/transformation in comics
  • Memory, postmemory, and German Erinnerungskultur
  • The ethical dimensions and implications of Holocaust comics
  • Visualizing the Holocaust, from Bilderverbot to sacralization to provocation
  • Strategies of transmitting accounts by victims versus perpetrators
  • The genocidal imaginary of the Holocaust in comics
  • The interplay of fact and fiction in Holocaust comics
  • The role of authenticity in Holocaust comics
  • Genre conventions in Holocaust comics
  • Considerations of form and narrative in Holocaust comics
  • Critical comparisons between German-language Holocaust comics and those from other national and linguistic traditions