CFP: Framing the Unreal – Exploring Graphic/Visual Science Fiction and Fantasy

Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
An international conference presented by Laboratorio per lo Studio Letterario del Fumetto and ICLA Research Committee on Comics Studies and Graphic Narrative
November 11-15, 2024

Stichtag: 30.06.2024

Following all inquiries from panel organizers and interested scholars, the deadline for submission of paper proposals is postponed to June 30, 2024.

In addition, considering the number of proposals received and since the programme is getting richer, the Organizing Committee has decided to extend the conference from the original three days to the whole week. Therefore, Framing the Unreal will now run from November 11th to November 15th, 2024.

For further information, please contact us at;

Further paper and seminar submission is open and several of the acepted seminars are looking for contributors:


Seminar 09 – Nightmares from the Past, Visions of the Future: Alternative Futurism & Comics
n sharp contrast to its origins in the proto-fascist technological enthusiasm of the early 20th Century, the term “Futurism” has been reclaimed and resignified since the 1970s by various marginal groups to imagine a new future against settler colonialism, racism, ableism, and heteronormativity. Hence, Alternative Futurisms can be seen as a militant response to contemporary discussions about race, gender, nation, and social justice. These types of futurisms often use Sci-Fi imagery, ideology, and themes to renew and recover marginal voices when envisioning a different future. Going well beyond the use of recurring Sci-Fi tropes (cyborgs, space and/or time travels, AI, etc.), these texts offer a platform for emancipatory and critical speculations. When the term Afrofuturism (the first “futurism” to be studied) was coined by Mark Dery in 1994, the scholar noticed how Sci-Fi was embraced in ways that celebrated diversity and presented visions of hope and future.

 Even though many of these works use Utopia and Science Fiction to narrate alternate histories that might lead to a real change for the better, others portray apocalyptic scenarios where the “what-if” meets the “if-this-goes-on” (Butler, 1998), functioning as cautionary tales. As Grace L. Dillon (2012:11) observed, “Indigenous futurisms are narratives of biskaabiiyang, an Anishinaabemowin word connoting the process of ‘returning to ourselves,’ which involves discovering how personally one is affected by colonization”. These narratives often retrieve ancestral traditions to recover from post-apocalyptic scenarios caused by the contact with settlers. Here, indigenous knowledge and cosmologies dialogue with western science to show how Native practices were not “primitive” at all—even though they were not based on western taxonomies. They also denounce how often western sciences (especially anthropology) were—and in some cases still are—intertwined with colonial ideology. 

 The field of Alternative Futurisms is particularly culturally relevant as it spans from literature to graphic, performative, and digital arts and music. Although the phenomenon is not new (Afrofuturism dates to the 1970s), the increasing number of comics and graphic novels adopting this aesthetic is certainly a new experience. One of the reasons behind such growth might be since comics seem particularly well suited for futuristic aesthetics, as they can easily host nonlinear narratives, constantly moving into the future and back into the past. Whereas Black Panther is probably the best-known example of Afrofuturism, one can also mention the comics Is’nana the Were-Spider, inspired by African folklore, Nowhere Man, a technological crime fighter or Matty’s Rocket, in which the main protagonist embodies elements of Harriet Tubman and Bessie Coleman, but also adaptations of such classics of the genre as The Parable of the Sower. Being attuned to this heterogeneous and dynamic artistic landscape, this panel aims to discuss how mainstream and alternative comics use Futuristic aesthetics to give voice to marginal groups.

 We encourage submissions that engage with, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Afrofuturism
  • Africana Futurisms 
  • Indigenous Futurisms
  • Latinx Futurisms
  • Asian (American) Futurisms 
  • Queer Futurisms
  • Disabilities in imagined futures

Organizers: Mattia Arioli, Chiara Patrizi

Seminar language: English. Spanish and Italian are also allowed if a roster of at least 2 papers in one of the two languages is submitted, as an autonomous session.

Submit to:,,

Please include „Submission to SEMINAR 09“ in the e-mail subject. Proposals that are not accepted for the seminar will still be considered for the conference.