MLA 2020 Special Session CFP: Transmedia Narratives of the Nonhuman (DEADLINE: 3/15/2019)

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Rebecca Wanzo & Lan Dong
contact email: 

Call for Papers for a proposed special session at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention on January 9-12, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. This collaborative panel is jointly sponsored by the Comics and Graphic Narratives Forum and the Screen Arts and Culture Forum.

Comics and graphic narratives have long explored the nonhuman as allegorical representatives of the human experience. This panel examines the difference medium makes in adapting comics and graphic narratives for the screen, and how transmedia narratives of the nonhuman represent/challenge our understanding of humanity, for example:

  • How does the change from drawn representations to human actors affect conceptualizations of the non-human?
  • Is the allegorical treatment of race and sexual difference substantive transformed by shifts in medium?
  • Do anthropomorphism or thingification play out differently on screen?
  • Do the ways in which temporality and space structure the different media—the difference in the ways in which readers and viewers see, interpret, and fill in the gaps—affect the narratives attached to the characters?
  • Have multiple delivery modes shifted the allegorical narrative because of presumed changes in audience?

Examples of possible topics include representations of hybridity in manga adaptations; the treatment of Vision from comic to screen; changes to the Inhumans on ABC series adaptations; the varied allegorical treatment of race in X-Men  comics, cartoons, and films; zombies as human allegories in Walking Dead or iZombie and how generic conventions of television shift the narrative; and how representations of violent acts are treated as examples of being less or more human in comics such as A History of Violence and Wanted.

Please send 250-word abstracts and 2-page CV by 15 March 2019 to Rebecca Wanzo (rwanzo@wustl.edu) and Lan Dong (ldong4@uis.edu). Submission will receive notification of results by April 1.

Please note this is a proposed, not a guaranteed, session at MLA 2020. It is contingent on approval by the MLA Program Committee. All prospective presenters must be MLA members by April 2019.