Graphic Novels as World Literature (edited collection, Bloomsbury)

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Bloomsbury Publishing
contact email: 

Call for Chapters

Graphic novels are one of the world’s great narrative art forms, but for much of the history of literary studies comic forms have been dismissed as trivial and largely irrelevant to serious scholarship on literature.  Thankfully, this is quickly changing and this sequential art form is beginning to be taken seriously in academia.  However, as is often the case with emerging art, graphic novels from Europe and the United States dominate scholarly conversations (with the notable exception of Japanese comics), despite the presence of quality graphic work from the Global South.  Although a few non-western graphic narratives, such as Satrapi’s Persepolis, have gained popular and academic audiences, the fact remains that scholarship on graphic novels is decidedly Euro-American centric. This proposed collection (invited by Bloomsbury Publishing) seeks to expand upon the little extant scholarship on non-western graphic novels to move beyond such a narrow approach to this quickly expanding field. By bracketing western writers to focus on graphic narratives from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia, the collection encourages contributors to think beyond the usual suspects in considering graphic novels outside the west.

As the title suggests, the collection is also interested in how these graphic texts engage with, fit in with, or complicate notions of World Literature.  Therefore, the larger theoretical framework of World Literature is welcome (though not necessarily required) in proposed articles, but so are postcolonial, decolonial, Global South, and similar approaches that argue explicitly or implicitly for the viability of non-western graphic narratives on their own terms. This collection, then, seeks to consider the ways that graphic novels from the Global South intersect with issues such as translation, commodification, circulation, Orientalism, and many others.  In short, what do the unique formal elements of graphic narratives bring to conversations about literature and the globe, whether through World Literature strictly defined via its well-known interlocuters (Damrosch, Moretti, Apter, Mufti, Cheah, etc.) or through any number of other legitimate critics, theories, and methods?

To this end, some room in this collection exists for a few minority narratives from the Global South located within the global north (African-American, Indigenous, etc.), though the collection understands “the world” to mean beyond the west.  There is also some flexibility to the term “novel” to accommodate shorter works, often serialized, in the comic form.

A wealth of high-quality non-western graphic novels exist today such as I Remember Beirut, A Game for Swallows, Metro, Two Brothers, Aya of Yop City, Freedom Hospital, Zahra’s Paradise, Baddawi, Corridor, The Arab of the Future, Poppies of Iraq, Dare to Disappoint, Munnu, Tinker. Soldier. Tap, Wild Animals, Malika, and Diario de un solo, to name just a few.  Ultimately, the collection will further the scant academic discourses on non-western graphic novels by examining texts such as these that have been undervalued in literary studies.   

Abstracts (300-500 words) for proposed articles should be submitted by November 1, 2019 to the editor of the proposed collection, James Hodapp, at jhodapp@northwestern.edu. By November 20th, potential contributors will be contacted regarding the status of their abstract. The proposal for this collection was invited by Bloomsbury Publishing’s “Literatures as World Literature” series editors for inclusion in the series (https://goo.gl/ECdoFl) after completion of the editor’s forthcoming collection from Bloomsbury entitled Afropolitan Literature as World Literature (https://bit.ly/33RbJHn). Ultimately, articles should be between 6000 and 8000 words including notes and are due March 1, 2020.  All articles will be peer-reviewed.  Please feel free to contact the editor early to ask any questions about the collection.