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Proposed essay cluster for Modernism/modernity Print Plus
“Modernism in Comics,” edited by Matthew Levay (Idaho State University)

Modernism and comics may have come of age at approximately the same time, but their affinities are far more than chronological. Both challenge longstanding notions of formal experimentation and tradition, offer idiosyncratic representations of individual experience and cultural change, push readers to engage with the work of art in unfamiliar and uncomfortable ways, and continue to inflect contemporary conversations about the affordances of textual and visual art. Likewise, modernism has long been a subject for comics, whether lambasted as an exclusionary object of ridicule or framed as a productive mode of grappling with the complexities of history, aesthetics, and culture.

This proposed cluster will feature a combination of position papers and case studies that argue for the mutually constitutive relationship between modernism and comics from the late nineteenth century through the present. Blending critical analysis with theoretical speculation, these essays ask what role modernism plays in comics, and why comics and modernism serve as such significant influences for one another.

Topics of particular interest include:

• The representation of modernism in contemporary comics
• The representation of modernism in early twentieth-century comics
• Comics, modernism, and cultural capital
• The circulation of comics in the public sphere (newsstands, libraries, subscriptions, readers)
• Comics, modernism, and the child reader
• Comics, modernism, and publishing
• Comics and/in translation
• Theorizations of comics as a modernist form
• Comics as an engagement with structures of modernity
• Avant-garde comics and modernist representation
• Comics, modernism, and the arts

While this cluster welcomes proposals that discuss works from a variety of national, temporal, and linguistic contexts, the editor is particularly interested in more global approaches that examine comics produced in languages other than English, particularly in East Asia, South America, and Africa. I also welcome proposals from early career scholars, NTT and adjunct scholars, and graduate students.

Abstracts of 300 words will be due by September 15, 2020; accepted essays of approximately 4000 words will be due by January 11, 2021. Please submit abstracts and inquiries to For recent examples of essay clusters, see the Print Plus website.

Abstracts due: September 15, 2020
Final essays due: January 11, 2021

Conference Location: N/A, N/A
Conference Starts: September 15, 2020
Conference Ends: September 15, 2020

CFP Submission Deadline: September 15, 2020

For more information, contact: Matthew Levay