Please join the Northeast Modern Language Association for its 51st Annual Convention. The theme of NeMLA 2020 is “Shaping and Sharing Identities: Spaces, Places, Languages, and Cultures.”

This year features more than 400 sessions, many focused on comics studies, including sessions on:

  • American superheroes around the world
  • Autobiographical comics
  • Comics as adaptation
  • Comics as resistance
  • Gender and sexuality in comics
  • German-language comics and graphic novels
  • Feminism and science fiction in Hispianic culture
  • Hayao Miyazaki
  • Italian comics
  • Teaching Asian America through graphic narratives
  • Time and space in comics
  • Video games adaptations of comics
Submit abstracts with a free NeMLA user account at by September 30, 2019. For more information, please visit
This panel investigates how queer spaces and identities get performed and contested through the affordances, narratives, and spatial politics of comics. Recent scholarship in comics studies has sought to extend queer approaches to the field beyond a sexual politics of recognition, opening up new opportunities to engage with visual culture and critical geographies to consider how queer spatiality disrupts hegemonic heterosexuality. With that in mind, this panel invites proposals that consider the connections between visual media, space, place, gender, and sexuality in comics. Potential questions to address may include: How are queer spaces embodied in comics and other graphic narratives? What is the relationship between visual images in comics and the cultural practices that produce queer narratives? How do the formal elements of comics (e.g. gutters or panels) help establish queer spaces as unfixed and contested? In what ways might they operate as disciplinary spaces themselves? What are contemporary or historical ways of representing queer spaces in comics? How might a focus on geopolitics or critical geography help scholars to expand conversations about the queer possibilities of comics? And how might comics seriality challenge or reproduce notions of queer spaces and gendered places? Ultimately, this panel welcomes proposals that interrogate how comics construct and deconstruct queer spaces, as well as how those spaces are conditioned by gender performances and sexual practices. Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted to Nicholas E. Miller at Proposals from a range of historical, cultural, and geographical backgrounds are welcome.

Barbarians Within: Constructing the Barbaric Other in Speculative Fiction

For the past two years, NeMLA’s keynote speakers have evoked the image of barbarians at the gates, and they are not alone in their use of this powerful image. Barbarians evoke a particular kind of wildness and danger that continues to resonate in popular culture, from the Dothraki and Wildlings in Game of Thrones, to the raiders in Parable of the Sower. In response to NeMLA 2020’s theme, “Shaping and Sharing Identities: Spaces, Places, Languages and Cultures,” we invite presentations that interrogate the idea of barbarism in speculative fiction. How is the barbaric defined and located? Can the racist and colonialist implications of the term ever be shed or inverted? Can barbarity be located on the “inside,” such as the hyper-civilized but bloodthirsty residents of the Capital in The Hunger Games? What relationship does barbarism have with categories of monstrosity, otherness, and race? We particularly wish to cultivate a panel with diverse disciplinary approaches, and which includes scholars from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. To this end, we invite a brief bio with the abstract.

Graphic narratives including comics and graphic novels continue to garner attention by researchers and instructors across the modern languages. German Studies is no exception as the last decade has seen comics studies contributions about themes as widespread as history, manga, journalism, and foreign-language pedagogy. Lately, graphic narratives about the experience of migrants have been particularly pertinent in publications and academic panels. Comics and graphic novels have thus tackled the experience of migrants who came to a German-speaking country decades ago (as was the case for the Mozambican guest workers at the center of Birgit Weyhe’s Madgermanes) as well as the stories of those who only recently arrived in Germany (as thematized, for example, in Paula Bulling’s Im Land der Frühaufsteher). These two recent and well-publicized examples indicate that historically marginalized groups of people are increasingly more visible in German-language comics and graphic novels. 

Nevertheless, the authors of these two and other narratives about marginalized people are not themselves affiliated with a minority population. Consequently, their stories and drawing styles do not give a full voice to marginalized identities. Our panel is a space to address this gap. By inviting papers that discuss comics and graphic novels created by authors from ethnic, linguistic, gender, sexual, or otherwise marginalized populations, we seek to add a new line of inquiry to the growing body of German-language comics research. In this spirit, we call for papers on graphic narratives that may or may not specifically address themes of marginalization, but because of their authorship represent the hitherto neglected community of non-majority comics and graphic novel creators. 

Questions may include, but are not limited to, the following: How do graphic narratives by minority authors differ narratively, thematically, and/or visually from those by majority authors? What national and transnational influences do they draw on? What is the (publishing) history of works by minority authors? Which platforms and networks do they frequent? And how are these works advertised and received? We explicitly encourage contributions about works from all German-speaking communities including artistic production from Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Namibia etc.

Please submit a 300 word abstract by September 15, 2019 to