This collection hopes to open comics studies to a consciously and politically capacious definition of “graphic narrative” that includes a wide range of visual and print culture. The conscious capaciousness of this collection seeks to unsettle dominant representations and misrepresentations of Latinx communities within visual media; to invite interdisciplinary and transdisciplinaryentanglements and affinities between comics studies and visual studies; and to find spaces of reconciliation between and among theory, pedagogy, and aesthetics.1This call draws from and builds on Ralph E. Rodriguez’s Latinx Literature Unbound(2018), whichasks how we might undiscipline Latinx literature from monolithic categories by questioning “the limits of employing the political fiction of Latinx to organize and analyze a corpus of literary texts” (3). Rodriguez, untethering Latinx literature from the burden of representation or authenticity, concentrates on how the formal features of literature and reading as an event open more playful, provisional interpretive categories and possibilities. In this collection, we ask, how can comics studies, as a field that is fundamentally multidisciplinary, further troubles monolithic understandings of Latinx visual literatures and cultures (always already plural). How might comics studies,as an analytic, provide a framework for undisciplining Latinx visual culturein playful, provisional, and productive ways?
We invite scholars to explorehow visual narratives formally explicate the inherent heterogeneity and diversity within “Latinx.” In our use of “visual narrative,” we invite essays that engage a variety of visual mediums, forms, and cultures, including but not limited to comics, graphicnovels, print and digital zines, illustrated short stories, webcomics, popular prints and posters, and street art. We particularly seek submissions that engage visual works that do not merely seek inclusion within normative frameworks of nation, citizenship, or identity but instead theorize alternative frameworks of belonging, particularly decolonial, antiracist, feminist, and queer approaches. We encourage pedagogical scholarship that considershow the use of comics in the classroom can strengthen transnationaland intersectional frames of reference for our students.We welcome criticalpieces that examine first-generation American life experiences, bilingualism, multiracial Latinx identities and experiences, the resistance and activism of Indigenous peoples, and undocumented narratives that explore belonging, citizenship, and cultural identity. We also welcome short creative visual works from artists that engage the collection’s thematic and political investments. In the current socio-politically charged climate in the US around equity and inclusion, this collection explores how comics studies approaches to the teaching and study of Latinx visual culture can visualize alternative formations of belonging, community, and care.
Some avenues of inquiry include, but are not limited to:
- How does the inclusion of comics and visual culture in our classrooms invite students to critically engage the study of race, nation, gender, sexuality, and other social locations in ways that maintain material, cultural, and linguistic specificity?
- As teachers and scholars, how can we introduce our students to comics and visual culture in a way that encourages students to see the unique cultural and epistemological work that they do? What specific pedagogical practices and strategies do you use inside the classroom to invite students as co-creators in this work?
- How does the undisciplining of Latinx comics and visual culture challenge traditional pedagogical, theoretical, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries? How can these works decolonize our curriculum and thought?
- How do comics and visual culture represent the intellectual and creative force of BIPOC, Latinx, Latin American, Central American, Indigenous, undocumented, and migrant communities?
- What intersectional, coalitional, or transcultural aesthetics and politics do Latinx comics and visual culture make visible or possible?
If you are interested in being considered for this collection, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words, a bio of no more than 150 words, and your affiliation and contact information to Fernanda Díaz-Basteris at firstname.lastname@example.org and Maite Urcaregui email@example.com by March 25th, 2021.
Each essay should be between 5,000-7,000 words (including notes and references). Creative visual works should be between 1-10 pages. We plan to be in touch regarding acceptances by early April, and full essays will be due on October 1, 2021.
*Please note that we have not yet found a press for this collection and will be submitting our proposal once we have received and accepted abstracts.
1Frederick Luis Aldama notes in his preface to Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics that “The frequent and strategic use of the LGBTQ inclusive Latinx signifier aims to remind readers of our community’s rich and varied make up” (xxi). In “What’s in an ‘x’? An Exchange about the Politics of ‘Latinx’” by Catalina (Kathleen) M. de Onís, Stacey K. Sowards reminds us that, within the masculine/feminine binary of Spanish, “The benefit of Latinx or Chicanx and other related words (e.g.,lxs) is to gender neutralize the terms, while also providing a term for those who are transgender or queer” (81). While there is still debate about the widespread use of Latinx and how it might collapse or obscure queer or trans identities and/or concede to colonial linguistic conventions, we use it as a linguistic transgression that marks the multiplicity within Latinidad that includes queer, trans, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming,and two-spirit individuals.