Dwelling in Time and Space: Comics and Identity (NeMLA 2020)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Anna Christine and Joanna McQuade
contact email: 

How does the space of comics allow for the shaping of identity or the sharing of experiences? The increase in scholarly attention to the graphic novel genre and category is often linked to the rise of graphic memoir, with texts such as Art Spiegelman's Maus and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis stimulating more respect for the medium of comics and its social/cultural significance. This panel is interested in exploring comics that deal with the complexities of identity—visually, generically, thematically, materially. Texts such as Tillie Walden’s Spinning, Cristy C. Road’s Spit and Passion, Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, Toufic El Rassi’s Arab in America, and Kabi Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, to name only a few, present a rich range of identities.

Guided by Sara Ahmed’s assertion that “bodies are gendered, sexualized, and raced by how they extend into space” and definition of orientations as “about the intimacy of bodies and their dwelling places,” panelists might consider how graphic memoir, including what Lynda Barry would call “autofictionalography,” shapes the idea of dwelling or home. Ahmed’s formulation of the relationship of bodies to time and space evokes comics, a medium where meaning occurs in relation to time and space. As Hillary Chute suggests, “The form of comics...lends itself to the autobiographical genre in which we see so many authors...materializing their lives and histories. It is a way to put the body on the page.”

This panel seeks papers exploring “putting the body on the page”: how does comics as a medium make visible and material its explorations of self-identity? How does comics extend this intimacy (and perhaps these dwelling places) beyond the physical page? How does the act of reading comics respond to the invitation to experience other identities and to shape our own?

Please submit via the NeMLA submission portal: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/CFP