CFP Classics Illustrated: Adaptation and Appropriation in the Comics (9/30/21; NeMLA Baltimore 3/10-13/2022)
CFP: Classics Illustrated: Adaptation and Appropriation in the Comics
Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture
For the 53rd Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association
To convene at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Baltimore, Maryland, from 10-13 March 2022
Proposals due by 30 September 2021
Our title deliberately evokes the comic book series Classics Illustrated to offer both an investigation and a reconsideration of the ways the comics medium engages with non-graphic literature. Comics have a long association with other literary works and connect to them in multiple ways by retelling, reworking, reimagining, or continuing their stories through deliberate or more nuanced approaches to their borrowing. In this session, we seek to explore how and why different comics adapt or appropriate elements of classic literature to different ends, different means, and different audiences, and why those myriad elements factor into their critical receptions.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Our title deliberately evokes the comic book series Classics Illustrated to offer both an investigation and a reconsideration of the ways the comics medium engages with traditional literature. Comics have long had an association with other literary works, as the medium often retells, reworks, reimagines, or continues many other narratives. Frequently, comics achieve their intended purpose by translating literary themes, elements, characters, story arcs, images, or callbacks from their referents—though sometimes the connections remain more subtle, more embedded than explicit.
This panel seeks to explore comics’ relationships with traditional literary texts by using the theoretical frameworks established by scholars, such as Linda Hutcheon and Julie Sanders. Specifically, this panel seeks to trace textual connections between comics and traditional literary classics as well as to build and expand upon previous studies of comics adaptation.
Two definitions emerge from studies in adaptation and appropriation: On one hand, Hutcheon writes that, by calling a work an adaptation, “we openly announce its overt relationship to another work or works” and that an adaptation is “repetition without replication” (A Theory of Adaptation 6,7). On the other hand, Sanders defines “appropriation” as a text that “frequently effects a more decisive journey away from the informing text into a wholly new cultural product and domain” (Adaptation and Appropriation 35). By using these definitions as starting points, we can begin to explore how and why different comics adapt or appropriate elements of classic literature to different ends, different means, and different audiences, and why those myriad elements factor into their critical receptions.
Papers can explore adaptations and/or appropriations of literary works, themes, characters, etc. as they appear in comics, and we welcome particular emphasis on papers highlighting the rationale and importance of the shift from one medium to another. Examples of such topics (as explored in previous scholarship) are, but are not limited to:
Adaptations of pre-modern mythology and literature
Adaptations of the works of Jane Austen, J. M. Barrie, Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, and others
Appropriation of literary characters in Fables and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Fairy and folk tales in Hellboy
The Hobbit graphic novel
King Arthur and DC’s Aquaman
Portrayals of Frankenstein’s Monster in DC and Marvel
Reimaginings of the biographies of writers, like H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, and Mark Twain
Robin Hood and DC’s Green Arrow
Romantic ideals in The Unwritten
Shakespearean themes and characters in Kill Shakespeare
George Kovacs and C.W. Marshall’s two-volume collection Classics and Comics and Son of Classics and Comics; Benoît Mitaine, David Roche, and Isabelle Schmitt-Pitiot’s collection Comics and Adaptation; Stephen Tabachnick and Esther Bendit Saltzman’scollection Drawn from the Classics: Essays on Graphic Adaptations of Literary Works; and Jason Tondro’s Superheroes of the Round Table: Comics Connections to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, as well as various essays by M. Thomas Inge and Derek Parker Royal. (William B. Jones, Jr.’s Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History might also be of interest.)
Submissions should be made directly into NeMLA’s conference management program at https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/19226. Potential presenters will need to create an account with NeMLA to submit a proposal (including a presentation title, brief abstract of 250 words detailing your experiences with and approaches to publication in popular culture, academic bio, and media needs) and to become members of NeMLA should their proposal be accepted for the session. Notice of acceptance will be made after 1 October 2021. Please go to the website nemla.org for details about session types and presenter guidelines.
Please address any other questions to the session organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also welcome suggestions for resources (in print or online) that might be of value to the panel and its audience.