CFP: Retro! Time, Memory, Nostalgia

The Ninth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference
Bournemouth University
June 27 - 29, 2018
Stichtag: 2018 02 01

Retro – a looking to the past – is everywhere in contemporary culture. Cultural critics like Frederic Jameson argue that retro and nostalgia are symptoms of postmodernism – that we can pick and choose various items and cultural phenomena from different eras and place them together in a pastiche that means little and decontextualizes their historicity. However, as Henri Bergson argues in Memory and Matter, the senses evoke memories, and products of popular culture, like comics, can bring the past to life in many ways. The smell and feel of old paper can trigger memories just as easily as revisiting an old haunt or hearing a piece of music from one’s youth.

As fans and academics we often look to the past to tell us about the present. We may argue about the supposed “golden age” of comics. Our collecting habits may even define our lifestyles and who we are. But nostalgia has its dark side and this continuous looking to the past is regarded by some as a negative emotion in which we aim to restore a lost adolescence. In Mediated Nostalgia, Ryan Lizardi argues that the contemporary media fosters narcissistic nostalgia ‘to develop individualized pasts that are defined by idealized versions of beloved lost media texts’ (2). This argument suggests that fans are media dupes lost in a reverie of nostalgic melancholia; but is belied by the diverse responses of fandom to media texts. Moreover, ‘retro’ can be taken to imply an ironic appropriation. Whereas nostalgia suggests that we take comfort in an illusionary past, retro can suggest performance and an active use of the past to comment on the present. The Ninth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference will investigate the complex relationship between time, memory, nostalgia and retro. We invite papers themed around, but not limited to, the following:

  • Preserving, restoring and reprinting old comics
  • The materiality of comics
  • The role of nostalgia in comics histories
  • Collecting and archiving comics
  • Comics exhibitions or museum exhibits
  • Recovered histories, forgotten voices (e.g. minority creators/audiences, overlooked roles)
  • Reboots and reworkings of old characters
  • Evoking older styles and printing methods
  • Envisaging characters in different eras (e.g. Marvel 1602, Elseworlds)
  • Biographies, autobiographies, histories
  • Uses of memory in comics genres (e.g. graphic medicine, dementia studies)
  • Playing with time, time travel themes, parallel universes,
  • Fan practices: collecting, creating, restoring
  • Lost or endangered spaces: comics studios, the newsstand, comics shops

We welcome proposals for themed panels (maximum three papers) or individual twenty-minute presentations relating to comics and graphic novels from practitioners and scholars of all fields. Please submit an abstract (300 words) and short biography (100 words) to by 1st February 2018.

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