Modernist Cultures: Proposed Special Issue on Comics and Modernism (abstract due 01 June 2012)

full name / name of organization: 
Modernist Cultures Special Issue

In Projections (2012), Jared Gardner calls comics "perhaps the most understudied of the vernacular modernisms of the twentieth century." This proposal for a special issue of Modernist Cultures (Edinburgh UP) on comics and modernism intends to develop and in some cases initiate critical conversations on the relationships between modernism and comics. According to Phillip Wegner, comics "emerge in the late-nineteenth-century context of a nascent cultural modernism," but that "comics narration has tended to be understood as at best to be a second-level, derivative form, and has often been read through interpretive and evaluative criteria which are simply not its own." This issue will focus on elaborating and extending two implications of Wegner's assertion: 1) the place of comics within the emergence of modernism and the field of modernist studies, and 2) the cultural valuation of comics, especially compared to other modernist forms. The guest editor for this proposed special issue invites abstracts (roughly 350 words) for papers on any topic relating to comics and modernism, but of particular interest are those focusing on comics and modernist aesthetics, technology, the politics of modernism, high/low cultural distinctions, and spatiality. If accepted, this proposed issue will appear in spring 2016.

"Comics" may be taken broadly to refer to newspaper strips, comic books, digital comics or webcomics, graphic novels, manga, or other forms of image/text literatures. Topics include but are not limited to:
• Modernist tendencies in comics auteurs (Alan Moore, Hergé, Robert Crumb, George Herriman, Art Spiegelman, Walt Kelly, among others)
• The 1980s as comics "modernist moment"
• Comics and spatiality
• Comics and cinema
• Comics/comix and the avant-garde
• Market/print cultures
• Superheroes and modernism
• Continuity and temporality
• Modernist appraisals of comics, whether celebratory (e.g. Gilbert Seldes, Walter Ong, e.e. cummings, etc), critical (e.g. Theodor Adorno, Irving Howe, etc) or ambivalent (e.g. Dorothy Parker)
• Comics and the modern novel
• Image/text combinations
• Comics and radicalism
• Immigrants as comics pioneers/the modernist expatriate scene
• Comics and vernacular modernisms
• Comics and politics of modernism
• Modernist comics/postmodernist comics

Please send abstracts of approximately 350 words and a short biography (50-100 words) as a Microsoft Word attachment to Jack Ayres ( by 01 June 2012. If accepted, this issue of Modernist Cultures will be published in spring 2016.