NeMLA 2019 - Transnational Aesthetics in Comics and Graphic Narratives

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Anna Christine and Joanna McQuade
contact email: 

We are seeking abstracts for our panel at NeMLA 2019 entitled, "Transnational Aesthetics in Comics and Graphic Narratives."

As a medium, comics have never belonged to one national tradition. Take the career of Marjane Satrapi, author of the hugely popular and influential graphic memoir, Persepolis. Satrapi began her life attending French schools in Tehran but, in her teenage years, went to school in Vienna. After returning to Tehran for art school, she finally ended up in Paris, where she was introduced to Art Spiegelman’s Maus. With the encouragement of the French cartoonist David B., she wrote Persepolis, which is now on over 250 syllabi in the United States. We could read this international trajectory into her own work, where her aesthetic influences might be traced to sources as varied as Islamic art, Epileptic, and postwar Italian cinema.

Contemporary comics theory considers how comics represents its international influences. Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester note that “comics are a rich source for social analysis. Using comics for social analysis can take the form of looking at how comics portray issues of identity (including issues of race, nationality, generational location, and gender),” while Hillary Chute suggests, “As a verbal-visual art form, comics is inherently about the relationship of word and image, which is to say, about different ways of communicating...Its very grammar... evokes the unsaid, or inexpressible.” How might these contrasting but complementary qualities in comics–their affinity for representing identity or expressing the inexpressible–be related to their current global popularity? How might comics invite transnational exchanges of aesthetic expression?

This panel invites papers that consider how transnationality, identity, and aesthetics have impacted the comics form. The catalogue of comics aesthetics is varied, with influences ranging from American, European, and Japanese comics, among many others. How do comics-makers experiment with these dominant aesthetics to subvert, comment on, exceed, or replace them? We’re seeking papers that engage with these diverse perspectives.

Submit via the NeMLA portal:

Please do not email submissions.