Monday, January 13, 2014

CFP: 9th Annual Conference of the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung: Drawing Borders, Crossing Boundaries (March 31; Sept. 25-28)

Call for papers
ComFor 2014
9th Annual Conference of the
Gesellschaft für Comicforschung
Drawing Borders, Crossing Boundaries
(Grenzen ziehen, Grenzen überschreiten)
25th to 28th September 2014

Be they between West and East, Upper, Middle and Working Class, Man and Woman, High and Low Art, Reality and Fiction: we are continuously drawing, crossing, and re-drawing boundaries and borders. For Yuri M. Lotman, this is a fundamental act of every culture. The notion of borders/boundaries is always ambivalent, separating yet also linking. Comics too create and transcend boundaries, both in the medium's form and content -- not least through blurring the distinction between text and image. Marketed globally, comics deal with national borders as much as with boundaries of the categories of class, race, and gender. And in many comics' characters, the differences between human and animal have become indistinguishable. The 9th Conference of the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung will examine these and further phenomena surrounding the theme of Boundaries/Borders.

1. Intermediality
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a new relation between text and image emerged through the comics form. While text can lose itself in images and through its materiality, as in onomatopoeic elements, become image, the image component in comics is serialized and, like writing, becomes sequentially legible. The order of knowledge, secure in book form, has been brought into disarray in the form of comics. How then should we interpret the relationship of image and text with regards to the boundaries between these formerly distinct elements? How does this perspective influence the relationship to other media? Is it even possible to draw distinct boundaries?
2. Interdiciplinarity
As evidenced by the current boom in comics scholarship, the medium of comics initiates a move beyond the scope of individual disciplines. Comics scholarship has thus become a contested field for experimentation, where various branches of scholarly research exist together, and where academic trends and turns leave their distinct marks. The medium thus highlights and echoes developments in academic research, while within comics scholarship, a process of historicization has already become evident. Amongst other aspects, we are now faced with questions such as whether drawing a line between 'old' and 'new' research methods actually serves to advance our investigation of the medium, or whether the borders between the various disciplines within comics scholarship are permeable enough to ensure that research results will reach a wide academic audience?
3. Migration and Transnationality
Comics found their first audiences within the borders of the nations where they emerged, yet were rapidly internationalized, not least due to the success of animated film. Comic artists as well as their protagonists cross geographic borders frequently, calling into question patterns of thought relying on national categories. This panel aims to reconstruct this movement of comics and its creators from the local to the global and ask such question as: How universal are comics? How can/do they succeed in conveying biographical cuts, breaks and inconsistencies as characteristic for narratives of migration? How do rootedness and uprooting find their expression in text and image -- be it in France, in the US, Japan, Mexico or India? How do artists negotiate the contrasts of Interior-Exterior/ Self-Other in shared "Exchange Programs"?
4. (Crossing) The Borders of Humanity
The signs of comics are, as we know, just that: signs, printers' ink on paper. Yet within this sphere of anonymous and reproducible materiality they outline the contours of highly diverse figures and entire worlds where certain boundaries and taboos are no longer valid -- such as those between humans and animals, or humans and machines. Comics thus call into question the image of humans and their humanity in the twentieth century. How are social power structures and the separations they establish and secure negotiated in comics? Do comics imply set theories on the relationship between humans and non-humans? Do they dissolve the boundaries of humans and animals, heretofore firmly established in the Western philosophical tradition? Or do they, in contrast, actually confirm these boundaries precisely in the ambivalence of these figures?
Proposals for presentations beyond the scope of the topics listed above will be considered for a fifth panel. There will also be the usual workshop where students and researchers can present their (MA, PhD, etc.) thesis projects.
The submission deadline is 31 March 2014. Please send a 500-word abstract including a short bio-bibliographic note to The conference languages are German and English. The presentations should not exceed 35 minutes (workshop-presentations: 25 minutes).
Organised by Comic-Kolloquium Berlin:
[Matthias Harbeck ( Marie Schröer (]

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