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CfP: Borders: Identity, Difference and Representation

The Eighth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference
part of the
Joint International Conference of Graphic Novels, Bandes Dessinées and Comics 2017
Date: Monday 26th June to Friday 30th June 2017
Venue: University of Dundee and the University of Glasgow (The conference will be in Dundee with a day trip to Glasgow on Wednesday 28th)
Theme: Borders: Identity, Difference and Representation

The border distinguishes one space or concept from another whether geopolitical, physical, psychological, ideological or temporal. As such it is a potent phenomenon in contemporary culture where invasion, contestation and negotiation of borders signal inclusion/exclusion or conflict. Geopolitical borders might deal with the imaginary lines on the map that designate one territory from another; immigration; citizenship; national and regional borders; sites of ownership; the topography of a space that can inhibit or prohibit; and the marks on the landscape made to claim one territory from another. Temporal borders include the construction of history through historical categories such as the Golden Age or the Silver Age, or the use of time in the comics medium.

Conceptually and aesthetically one can also explore the border on the comics page, through the variable or imaginary lines that define panels or the page. Narratively speaking, comics blur borders, including genre, as in the constant evolution of the superhero genre, lately into the high school teen drama (DC Superhero High) and the western (Jonah Hex). The medium also plays with the borders between modes of expression, as sound becomes visible; words become drawn; and the material becomes digital. Is there a border between the terms ‘comic’, ‘graphic novel’, ‘sequential art’, ‘manga’, or ‘bande dessinée’?   

The body too has its borders: the inside and outside; gendered and racial identities; human versus animal or machine; dead versus alive. Psychologically we might also consider the borders between sanity and madness; political ideologies; or good and evil. These borders can be challenged, negotiated or invaded. The challenge to national borders by invasion and immigration can lead to trauma and war. The disruption of the body’s borders leads to abjection and the grotesque.

We invite papers on all aspects of the border. The following list is by no means exhaustive:

  • physical and political borders – national identity, transitions, change, immigration, status, politics
  • transitions from one bodily state to another – shape shifting, life/death (in horror, fantasy, science fiction), gender reassignment, racial identities (for instance the changing gender or race in some superhero narratives)
  • narrative borders – the never ending serial, the hybrid genre, the transmedia narrative
  • aesthetic borders – the layout of the comics page, the intersections of panels
  • conceptual borders – between genres, media, modes of expression
  • temporal borders – historical approaches and categorisations, time on the comics page

We will also have room within our programme, as always, for papers that do not fit this specific theme. If you are submitting to the General Session please do make that clear in your proposal.

Please send proposals (up to 300 words) to borders2017@gmail.com by 1st January 2017.