CFP: Comics Studies Society Conference | Re/Building Community

The 4th Annual Comics Studies Society Conference
August 6-7, 2021

The fourth annual CSS conference seeks to bring together scholars, artists, and other members of the international Comics Studies Society to examine, explore, and work to re/build the various communities of which we form a part. Following in the wake of an exceptionally tumultuous year that necessitated distance and isolation like few of us have ever had to experience, the 2021 conference hopes to spark thoughtful conversations about the intersections surrounding comics and communities of all sorts, from comics shops to web comics, cons to cosplay, creative collaborations to comics collectives, and the graphic narrative communities we study to those that we ourselves inhabit.

In keeping with the theme of re/building communities, we hope to bring to the forefront of this conference connections between communities big and small, global and local. Above all, we want to bring our own community back together in a way that is safe and inclusive, and that also celebrates and invigorates the local communities of our members. In short, we will be working in 2021 to help share what the many diverse communities that compose our membership are doing with our larger CSS community.

To these ends, we are currently inviting proposals for two different modalities for this conference: virtual presentations, panels, and roundtables; and small, local pop-up panels or symposiums to be created with contacts in your local or regional comics community. It is our hope that this offering of two distinct modalities will allow for the utmost degree of flexibility in accommodating individual concerns, safety, and comfort, while also maximizing our points of contact with each other and our communities – what we’ve all been missing in the increased distance and isolation of 2020.

As per our custom, presentations may take the form of traditional 20-minute research papers (either proposed alone or as part of a planned panel) or shorter contributions in roundtables organized around a specific theme. This year we will simply be organizing those virtually rather than in-person. In the spirit of the conference theme, we also welcome innovative collaborations that enact as well as address communal forms of comics studies.

The pop-up panels are an opportunity for you to host your own panel and invite members from your own local community to take part in the excellent work being done in CSS. This can be done in-person, if social distancing needs in your area allow for it at the time of the conference, or via videoconferencing, if an in-person event is not advisable. Whether in-person or online, we hope that this presents an opportunity to encourage your local colleagues and contacts to join us at CSS, albeit virtually, and to enjoy some of the benefits of a small, in-person symposium without the travel associated with the larger in-person conference. More details are available on the pop-up panel template.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

– Comics communities IRL, from academic societies to cosplay communities
– The virtual communities surrounding comics
– Graphic narrative depictions of communities in comics
– Character “travel” from one graphic narrative community to another
– Considerations of various subject positions in comics communities
– Comics and re/building communities in time of social distancing
– Historical and contemporary comics fandom as community
– communal comics production (the underground “jam,” creative teams, comics collectives,
the anthology as community, etc.)
– Community activism, organizing and comics
– The local comic book shop as community space
– Comics and marginalized/underrepresented communities
– The comics of specific localities
– Scholarship as community
– Community and CSS
– Curating comics collections for local or academic libraries

Guidelines for Submission

We are accepting submissions for the following (templates are hyperlinked):

Pop-up panels
Individual papers (20 min., presented virtually)
Panels of three papers (presented virtually)
Virtual roundtables of short (5 min.) presentations by 4-5 presenters followed by discussion

All proposals should be sent as Word files by email by January 30, 2021 to:

The conference organizers will send out notifications of acceptance by the end of February. Please add our conference email to your trusted senders to ensure email delivery.

A presenter’s name may appear twice in the program.

In lieu of our usual set conference registration fees, this year we invite our conference participants to name their own registration fee. In keeping with the spirit of our conference theme, rebuilding community, all fees collected from conference registration proceedings this year will go to special funds to 1) support future graduate student and contingent faculty travel awards and to 2) support future annual CSS awards prizes, as well. When you complete your registration via EventBrite, you will have the option to either “purchase” a free ticket or to make a donation (which also comes with a free ticket to the conference). If you make a donation you will be able to choose which initiatives your dollars will support.

All presenters must be members of the Comics Studies Society at the time of registration.

Conference Chair: Brittany Tullis (St. Ambrose University)

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