"Modernist Studies and Comic Books" at MSA 16 in Pittsburgh, PA
In their seminal article "The New Modernist Studies" Douglas Mao and Rebecca Walkowitz note, when speaking of the study of periodicals, that "to study the media of modernism…is to encounter ambitions for literary art that might be otherwise lost to historical memory." While the artistic ambitions of a postmodern view of comic books are well known, modernist studies has been slower to recognize the value of early twentieth-century comics or to integrate comics into scholarly dialogues on the "new modernisms." Thus, I seek papers that discuss the significance of the rise of comics and comic books as artifacts of print culture and as specific elements of the "media of modernism." In this way, this panel hopes to keep the study of comics and comic books from becoming "lost to historical memory" by discussing them as modern artifacts that have a specific context and historical moment through which they must be examined.
Papers for this panel might address theoretical concepts of modernism and their ties to comics; the production of the comic book in an increasingly modernized world; questions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, or sexuality in comic books; or the periodization of comics as compared to the periodization of the modernist "little magazine." The driving questions for this panel will be: what can comics tell us about the increasing modernization of the world in the early twentieth century? How might examining modernism and comic books side-by-side lead toward new understandings of modern identity as it relates to race, ethnicity, class, gender, or sexuality? Can the term "periodical studies" also be broadened to include the study of comics, and if so, what might this do to benefit periodical studies and modernist studies as a whole?
Conference Dates: November 6-9, 2014
Conference Location: Pittsburgh, PA