Traumics: Comics Narratives of Trauma
The Graduate Comics Organization at the University of Florida invites applicants to submit proposals to the 11th UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, “Traumics: Comics Narratives of Trauma.” The conference will be held from Friday April 4th 2014 to Sunday April 6th 2014. Proposals are due January 1st, 2014.
Traumics are, simply put, comics plus trauma. With their syntax of panels, gutters, and pages and their use of the evocative power of image in conjunction with the precise communication of text, comics are uniquely suited to delivering narratives of trauma. The relationship of trauma (especially childhood trauma) to the comics medium is a thread that runs throughout Hillary L. Chute’s 2010 Graphic Women: Life Narrative & Contemporary Comics, a book which is structured around exploring the works of five autobiographical comics artists (Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, and Alison Bechdel). By their very nature, comics provide a potentially ideal means through which to tell those stories which require the fragmentation and reconstruction of events of high drama and emotional intensity. The juxtaposition of images on the comic page make comics what might be considered a ‘natural’ fit for exploring the concept of “Remembering, repeating, and working-through” examined so in-depth in Cathy Caruth’s seminal 1996 work on trauma, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History.
More than two decades ago, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-winning opus, Maus, changed the way much of the reading public views comics, and is now one of the most iconic and recognizable Holocaust narratives to be studied in the classroom or found on bookstore shelves. Since the turn of the century, autobiographical comics like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Phoebe Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl have all been released to great critical acclaim. Epileptic, David B.’s autobiographical exploration of medical trauma, hugged the transition from the 1900s to the 2000s, with its original French release running from 1996 to 2003; more recently, David Small’s autobiographical Stitches (2009) also forced a spotlight on medical trauma, using bold, rough graphics to recount the horror of a child’s battle with cancer. Robert Kirkman’s zombie survival horror comic The Walking Dead (which began its run in 2003 and continues today) has captured the American cultural imagination, with its adaptations ranging from a television show and video game to a prominent role in the most recent Halloween Horror Nights attraction at Universal Studios. Comics and war narratives (as well as war reporting) have also gone hand-in-hand for many years; just this November, noted war comics writer and artist Joe Sacco released his latest work, The Great War, which tells the story of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in one continuous, 24-foot drawing. Comics have become one of the most important and visible venues through which a 21st-century audience understands, imagines, and works through traumatic events.
We invite presentation proposals from all disciplines on the theme of “traumics: comics narratives of trauma.” Possible topics include but are not limited to:
- Comics and Journalism (Example: Guibert, Lefevre and Lemercier’s The Photographer)
- Comics and Autobiography / Graphic Memoir (Examples: Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, David B.’s Epileptic, Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl and A Child’s Life, David Small’s Stitches)
- Comics as Blogging / In blogging (Example: Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half)
- Violence in the Comics and Cultural Responses (Examples: “mainstream” violence in Marvel and DC comics, violence and the Comics Code Authority)
- Comics Go to War / Comics About War / Comics Read and/or Written on the Front Lines (Examples:The ‘Nam, Commando Comics)
- The Traumatic Oeuvre of Joe Sacco
- Art Spiegelman’s Maus and its Critical Reception
- How Comics Represent Trauma / Traumatic Experiences in the Comics
- Trauma and Sexuality in the Comics (For example, in the work of Alan Moore)
- Rape and Sexual Assault in the Comics / The Discussion Thereof (See: The recent controversy surrounding Mark Millar’s “rape comments”)
- Trauma and Manga (For example, in the work of Osamu Tezuka and Hagio Moto)
- Childhood and Trauma in the Comics
- Childhood and Trauma in Illustrated Books and Children’s Picture Books (Examples: Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Maurice Sendak’s Outside Over There)
- The Imagetext of the Newspaper / How Trauma is Reported through Media
“Traumics: Comics Narratives of Trauma” will consider proposals from graduate students, professors, independent scholars, undergraduates and other academics, and all proposals will be judged based on merit. The conference will be free to attend and open to the public.
Graduate papers presented at the conference will be eligible for consideration as Best Graduate Paper. The competition is open to non-UF graduate students and will be judged by a panel of UF professors. The winner will be awarded $250 and an opportunity to publish the full-length version of his or her paper in ImageTexT. Please indicate interest in the competition with abstract submissions.