Saturday, January 20, 2007

CFP: Classics and Comics (2/5/07; APA, 1/3/08-1/6/08)

The first of several comics-related calls for papers I'll be posting here today...

Classics and Comics
Outreach Panel Session at the American Philological Association
January 3-6, 2008; Chicago, Illinois

Proposals are invited for a special outreach panel on the topic of “Classics and Comics,” to be held at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association (APA) in January 2008. There are many examples of comics appropriating the classics for serious or comic purposes, including Frank Miller's 300, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Messner-Loebs' Epicurus the Sage, van Lente's Action Philosophers, Shanower's Age of Bronze, Goscinny and Uderzo's /Asterix/ series. Since Classics Illustrated Comics' The Last Days of Pompeii in 1947, comics have been drawing (on) material from Greek and Roman myth, literature and history. At times the connection was cosmetic—as perhaps with Wonder Woman’'s Amazonian heritage —and at times it was almost irrelevant—as with Hercules’ starfaring adventures in the 1982 Marvel miniseries. But all of these make implicit or explicit claims about the place of Classics in modern literary culture.

The APA's committee on Outreach is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding and appreciation of Classics – Greek and Roman culture of the ancient world. Each year the Outreach Committee hosts one panel on a topic designed to attract an audience from outside the APA's traditional audience (students and faculty of Classics Departments in North America). This panel is open both to members of the APA and the general public and will be advertised in the Chicago area.

The comic book has been a major element of North American popular culture for over a century and has been increasingly regarded as a legitimate artistic and literary medium. This legitimization has happened on at least two fronts: through the emergence of the 'graphic novel' and through scholar/ practitioners such as Scott McCloud and Will Eisner attempting to define the relationship of the comic book to audience, artist and other artistic media. Yet to date there has been very little work attempting to integrate the medium into a larger understanding of Western artistic and literary culture.

The following is a list of possible topics that contributors might explore, though the organizers invite proposals for exciting and engaged papers that will reveal aspects of comics and their Classical sources from any disciplinary perspective that might be relevant to the overall theme:
  • the depiction of myth or ancient history in comics
  • visual representations of myth or history in ancient sources and in the comics format
  • discussions of any specific use of the Classics in the comics medium
  • the transformation of narrative structure between ancient source material and comics
  • the appropriation of motif or character typology from Classical literature
  • the synthesis of visual art and text in the ancient and modern worlds
  • the effect of comics on modern perceptions of Greek and Roman material
  • the influence of comics on other artistic media depicting Greek and Roman material
  • the legitimization of comics as literature through the use of Classical material
  • Classical narratives in Manga
  • comparison of comics with other forms of 'low' culture in the ancient world
The organizers are also welcoming the participation of comics writers and artists.

Contingent to the success of the panel, the organizers may wish further to develop and publish the proceedings.

Papers will be 20 minutes in length; use of visuals (through PowerPoint) is expected.

Please forward a 400-word abstract, along with a brief biographical statement or CV, as email attachments in Word or Rich Text Format to both of the organizers:

George Kovacs (
C.W. Marshall (

Further questions may also be addressed to either of the organizers.

Abstracts will be considered beginning February 5, 2007, until the panel is filled. Submissions are encouraged before that date.

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