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Comics 2021 Conference

Comics and Their Audiences / Audiences and Their Comics

The 2021 Joint Conference of the International Graphic Novel & Comics and the International Bande Dessinée Society

Comics 21 poster21-25 June 2021
Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Overview

Comics enthusiasts have long considered comics a uniquely participatory medium. As readers breathe life into static images, convert page space into narrative time, and transform splatters of ink into emotion, they engage with comics in languages that audiences and artists have developed in tandem, negotiating over generations.

Comics 21 | Themes

The theme of this conference explores the idea of audiences in all its meanings. We consider, for example, comics audiences as physical people, individuals, and groups who engage with comics in different situations. Thus, the relationship of readers accessing comics in different languages allows inquiry into questions of translation and adaptation. Readers inhabiting different periods or surviving traumatic public and private moments allow historical and biographical readings. Attention to how audiences identify themselves—according to different or multiple racial, sexual, religious, ethnic, gender, or national identities, physical ability, or migration status—offers to validate marginalised perspectives and fracture traditional understandings. Thinking about comics as texts for or forbidden to children, ideal or inappropriate for adults connects to fields across the curriculum.

The theme also provides space for more abstract senses of comics audiences.

  • As audiences have transformed, how have comics adapted to meet them?
  • How must readings of touchstone texts shift—and how do those readings resolutely resist change?
  • As the definitions of producer and consumer of comics have stiffened and relaxed, how has piracy changed the way that comics are read, perceived, discussed, revised, collected, and distributed?
  • How have fans pushed or subverted the industry, and how has the industry marshalled its fan base?
  • How have readership and audiences been affected by the context of comics within transmedia universes?

These questions conceive of audiences as both larger and more nuanced, as communities divide and duplicate, working with and against comics publishing.

Call for papers

We invite papers on all aspects of comics and audiences, including:

  • Readership of comics in different media, including digital and online
  • Libraries and audience access to comics
  • Designing comics-specific theories of reader response and transmediation
  • Social justice (for example, anti-racism, climate activism, anti-sexism, and disability rights) in, with, and through comics
  • Reading and creating comics in the classroom
  • Comics and the formation of identity and community
  • Cognitive inquiries into how audiences understand comics
  • Experiences of comics according to identity and/or embodiment
  • Intersection of academic audiences, popular audiences, and the canon
  • Comics as vehicles for informing, as in graphic medicine and teaching
  • Fan cultures
  • Revisionary definitions of audiences, readers, and community

We will also have room within our programme, as always, for papers that do not fit this specific theme.

Deadline for 200-word proposals to comics21@educ.cam.ac.uk : 31 December 2020

Further information

Should the conference not be able to take place due to a resurgence of Covid-19, the conference will likely be postponed rather than delivered online. In such an event, every attempt will be made to give at least two months’ advance notice.

Questions? Reach out to us at comics21@educ.cam.ac.uk .

COMICS 21