This workshop seeks papers by Americanists from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds who are interested in the ways that graphic narratives address the ethical dimensions of war and conflict. We are using the term “graphic narrative” (cf. Chute and deKoven) here to refer to a variety of genres in comic book format because it usefully covers comic strips, superhero comics, graphic reportage, autobiographical comics, etc. From the human rights reportage of Joe Sacco to the graphic memoirs of Art Spiegelman and Keiji Nakazawa, from the rhetorics of justice that structure superhero comics to the ways that culture wars get framed through political cartooning, all forms of comics art both reflect and participate in the production of various ethical considerations. These ethical considerations include but are not limited to: discourses of justice, recognition, and human rights; the politics of spectatorship and emotion; the costs of war on both the private level and in the public realm; the politics of nationalism, citizenship, and belonging; the construction of masculinity/femininity in the context of war; racial and ethnic stereotyping in war-related comics.
Proposals for this workshop can address any form of the comics medium from any time period and can also focus on non-American comics, although proposals must demonstrate how the topic comments or frames “America” in some way. We are particularly interested in papers that examine the links between comics ethics and comics form, the way the form itself (frames, gutters, drawing style, sequential effects, the interaction between words and images, the connections between drawing and photography etc.) has the potential to speak to larger ethical considerations. In addition, we are also particularly interested in papers that contextualize comics by using critical and cultural theory.
Papers can address the following, but we are also open to other, related research questions as well:
• How do particular graphic narratives frame issues of war and conflict, and in turn how do these frames shape images of America?
• How has the medium of comics been used as a tool for political propaganda during states of war and conflict?
• Are there particular aspects of the medium itself that speak in unique ways to the ethics of war, justice, and/or conflict? To related issues of trauma, witnessing, and spectatorship?
• How do particular graphic narratives contribute to American public culture’s ideas of human rights, justice, citizenship, and/or recognition?
• How might various cultural theories help us understand the links between comics, ethics, and images of America?
Ideally, this workshop would also lay the foundations for the creation of a comics research network amongst Americanists in Europe and beyond. In this way, we would like to use a small portion of the workshop time to brainstorm the possibilities of building such a network.
Note: Speakers must be members of their national Association for American Studies if there exists one in their home country. Speakers from Canada, Israel, Japan, and the USA must be members of their respective American Studies Associations, or of another organization with an appropriate focus (OAH, APSA, etc.).
All presentations will be 20 minutes long.
Please send an abstract between 300 and 500 words by October 1st to the workshop chairs:
Rebecca Scherr, University of Oslo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mihaela Precup, University of Bucharest: email@example.com
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