Call for Papers for the conference “Comics and their Popularity” Dec 1st–3rd, 2017, University of Bonn

2017 12 01 - 2017 12 03
12. Wissenschaftstagung der Gesellschaft für Comicforschung
Stichtag: 2017 04 30

We invite abstracts for the 12th annual research conference of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor). Abstracts may address either the conference proper with this year’s topic (1) or the thematically free Open Workshop sessions for ongoing research projects (2).

1. Call for Papers on “Comics and their Popularity”

Comics might currently seem to show some ambivalence towards their own popularity. On the one hand, multitudes have access to these media that provide entertainment and, increasingly, information. On the other hand, it is their very popularity that has in the past given rise to popular suspicions against comics. It is no later than in the 1950s that parents and pedagogues all over the world begin to fear that comics might lead children and teenagers astray, prompting them to limit access, which has in turn constrained the formal and topical development of the art form. At the same time, rendering comics as harmless entertainment for kids attracted criticism of immaturity, excluding it from the canonical reading for self-defined members of the educated classes.

In the 1970s, the art form could thus be rediscovered as a subversive mode of expression. The attempt to use the term ‘graphic novel’ as a vehicle to approach new audiences was again met with ambivalence: While the traditional fan scene, often wary of outsiders, saw its identity and large parts of its reading conventions at risk, publishers, reviewers and book sellers saw an opportunity to gain new readership and popularity. For some parts of academia, it was only then that comics became an object of cultural research. It is these dialectics of exclusions and inclusions, access and constraint, that the conference on Comics and their Popularity at Bonn University will discuss. Some possible topics might include:

– mechanisms and institutions of control, in historical and contemporary perspectives: where censorship of political statements, ethnic and gender stereotypes as well as infringements of sexual and religious taboos face freedoms of speech, art, and press
– the different audiences and subcultures addressed and reached by comics and their identitary practices
– different processes of canonization among these groups (bestseller lists, prizes, collected editions etc.), archival practices among collectors as opposed to libraries and museums, comics studies conducted by fans vs. academic studies
– popular vs. highbrow aesthetics in comics: genres and styles, normative vs. norm-breaking production, immersive vs. slow and repeated readings
– national and global aspects of the popular, cultural differences and transcultural developments of processes of inclusion and exclusion
– aspects of popular vs. highbrow authorship, bourdieuian habitus and self-fashioning of comics artists

2. Call for Papers for the Open Workshop

Beyond the discussion of each year’s special topic, the German Society for Comics Studies aims to further co-operation and dialogue in all areas of comics research. The 12th Annual Conference will therefore re-introduce an open workshop format that allows researchers to present and gather feedback on on-going projects within comics studies in all stages of development, and without any thematic restrictions
– not limited to Comics and their Popularity. The invitation stands for colleagues in all phases of academic careers to discuss any projects on which they are currently working, be it as BA, MA or PhD candidates, established institutional researchers, or free scholars.

Please address mark your abstracts of roughly 300 words plus a short biography
and bibliography no later than April 30th to

Conference organizers: Dr. Joachim Trinkwitz, PD Dr. Rolf Lohse, Mathis Bicker

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