Sunday, October 15, 2006

CFP: The Jewish Graphic Novel

Just received this interesting call for papers for a proposed scholarly essay collection:
The Jewish Graphic Novel

Essays sought for an interdisciplinary collection co-edited by an art historian and literary scholar. The growing subgenre of Jewish literary and graphic culture contains a number of significantly innovative aesthetic works that are increasingly recognized by literary critics as an exciting form of alternative narrative that may also represent the inception of a new visual literacy that has significant implications for the future of Jewish literary and artistic expression. As the catalogue of a recent art exhibit devoted to this cultural phenomenon states,
Jewish graphic novels represent an important genre in artistic expression and assert the intensity of word and image in conveying narratives that speak eloquently to the contemporary viewer. [They] offer intense visual elucidation of Jewish historic and literary events by combining intense illustration with searing social issues.
Works to be addressed may include graphic novels by Will Eisner (A Contract With God: and Other Tenement Stories, Fagin the Jew, The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion); Czech writer Vittorio Giardino's trilogy of volumes about Jewish life under the shadow of totalitarianism (A Jew in Communist Prague: Loss of Innocence, A Jew in Communist Prague: Adolescence, and A Jew in Communist Prague: Rebellion); Ben Katchor's The Jew of New York; Miriam Katin's memoir of WWII survival, We Are On Our Own; Neil Kleid's portrayal of mobsters in Brownsville; Etgar Keret's surreal tales, Jetlag: Five Graphic Novellas; Joe Kubert's stunning account of the Warsaw ghetto uprising in Yossel: April 14, 1943; Joann Sfar's whimsically philosophical The Rabbi's Cat; James Sturm's disturbing parable of American racism, The Golem's Mighty Swing; and J.T. Waldman's recent bold retelling of the essential Jewish myth of power and powerlessness in Megillat Esther. The editors also hope to include an essay or two on the impact of Art Spiegelman's seminal works of Holocaust oral history in Maus: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, which crystallized the acceptance of the graphic novel as a legitimate literary form.

This collection aspires to fill an important gap in existing scholarship by offering the first collection of critical discussions to solely address the way that Jewish graphic novels grapple with Jewish history, cultural politics, antisemitism, portrayals of Ashkenazi and Sephardic identities, the role of the Holocaust in the artist's cultural and moral imagination, political controversy, literature, sacred texts, and myth through these captivating works that render image and text in hitherto unimagined forms. Other essays might consider the important role of autobiography in the graphic novel and the role of the graphic novel in the Jewish Studies classroom. This list is by no means exhaustive; other relevant theoretical, pedagogical, or cultural approaches will be considered. Authors are encouraged to use images whenever appropriate but they are individually responsible for all necessary permissions. Papers from all disciplines, or interdisciplinary submissions (whether focused on single works or comparative discussions), are welcomed.

Send brief bios along with abstracts (300 words) or complete essays that follow the current edition of the MLA Style Manual to both Ranen Omer-Sherman and Samantha Baskind by 11/30/06.

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Blogger C. Margery Kempe said...

What? Nothing on Gaiman?

10/17/2006 11:20 AM  
Blogger Gene Kannenberg, Jr. said...

I found that absence a bit odd, myself, given the (relative) obscurity of some of the other cartoonists mentioned here. But then, Gaiman hasn't made his Jewishness as central to his work as most of these others have. The interview you link to here actually has him discuss this aspect of his upbringing more than I recall seeing before. Thanks!

10/17/2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger Steve Bergson said...

It hasn't been central in Sandman, but I've referred to the stories with "Jewish moments" at my Jewish comics bibliography / discussion forum / blog pages, such as Sandman #8, in which a dying Jewish man recites the Sh'ma prayer before being taken by Death.

FWIW, I submitted an essay for this anthology and specifically mentioned Gaiman in reference to the book Outrageous Tales of the Old Testament, since he had the greatest number of stories in that one compared to other contributors (thus, giving the anonymously-edited work "Jewish authorship").

1/02/2007 10:57 AM  

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