Narrative Voice in Autobiographical Graphic Novels (NEMLA 2020)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

CFP for panel at NEMLA 51st Annual Convention (Boston, March 5-8, 2020)

Narrative Voice in Autobiographical Graphic Novels

The creation of the genre category “graphic novel” seems inextricably linked to the experimental writing of autobiography in comics since the 1970s, from the groundbreaking work of Justin Green, Harvey Pekar, Will Eisner, and Lynda Barry, to the “big three” now most popular in classrooms: MausPersepolis, and Fun Home. Outside of the European tradition, manga artists in Japan have also used the medium of comics to recount stories of traumatic personal experience, including Shigeru Mizuki’s works on Japanese history and Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen series. In these texts, the “co-mixing” of words and images in panels across the page allows the autobiographical narrative to move smoothly, and multi-directionally, between past, present, and future. How does the first-person narrative voice (or lack thereof) work in graphic memoirs? And how might the medium of comics prompt us to reconceptualize life writing in our contemporary media environment?

Cross-cultural or comparative discussions are particularly welcome.

Please submit an abstract of around 250 words to the NEMLA website

Please see general guidelines for submission here

For further inquiries, please contact Shang-yu Sheng (Assistant Professor, University of Tokyo) at shangyusheng [at]