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CSSC/SCEBD Virtual Symposium Report

by Erika Chung

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics/La Société canadienne pour l’étude de la bande dessinée 2020 conference was cancelled. In its place, a series of online symposiums were organised to bring comic scholars together throughout the 2020/2021 academic year. Participants accepted to the conference and CSSC/SCEBD members in good standing were welcomed to participate in the online symposiums. In an effort to maximise the flexibility of the online Zoom space, the symposiums did not replicate in-person panel presentations. Instead, panellists’ research was shared with spectators in advance of the scheduled symposium session and, on the day of the symposium, researchers participated in a roundtable discussion. The goal was for panelists to engage in greater dialogue with their research and each other. Panelists and spectators met on Zoom and a moderator helped guide the roundtable discussion. Moderators introduced each speaker and prepared discussion questions. Panelists were also welcome to ask one another questions. In total, the online symposium series consisted of four sessions and featured researchers from the UK, India and across Canada.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics/La Société canadienne pour l’étude de la bande dessinée 2020 conference was cancelled. In its place, a series of online symposiums were organised to bring comic scholars together throughout the 2020/2021 academic year. Participants accepted to the conference and CSSC/SCEBD members in good standing were welcomed to participate in the online symposiums. In an effort to maximise the flexibility of the online Zoom space, the symposiums did not replicate in-person panel presentations. Instead, panellists’ research was shared with spectators in advance of the scheduled symposium session and, on the day of the symposium, researchers participated in a roundtable discussion. The goal was for panelists to engage in greater dialogue with their research and each other. Panelists and spectators met on Zoom and a moderator helped guide the roundtable discussion. Moderators introduced each speaker and prepared discussion questions. Panelists were also welcome to ask one another questions. In total, the online symposium series consisted of four sessions and featured researchers from the UK, India and across Canada.

Read the rest of this entry »

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics/La Société canadienne pour l’étude de la bande dessinée 2020 conference was cancelled. In its place, a series of online symposiums were organised to bring comic scholars together throughout the 2020/2021 academic year. Participants accepted to the conference and CSSC/SCEBD members in good standing were welcomed to participate in the online symposiums. In an effort to maximise the flexibility of the online Zoom space, the symposiums did not replicate in-person panel presentations. Instead, panellists’ research was shared with spectators in advance of the scheduled symposium session and, on the day of the symposium, researchers participated in a roundtable discussion. The goal was for panelists to engage in greater dialogue with their research and each other. Panelists and spectators met on Zoom and a moderator helped guide the roundtable discussion. Moderators introduced each speaker and prepared discussion questions. Panelists were also welcome to ask one another questions. In total, the online symposium series consisted of four sessions and featured researchers from the UK, India and across Canada.

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The Comics Patrimonialisation of Woodcut Novels

Turning an Entre-deux Situation into a Third Position – Part 3/3[1]

by Jean-Matthieu Méon

 

Woodcut novels form a genre of graphic narratives that emerged in Europe at the end of the 1910s with the works of the Belgian Frans Masereel. It was later explored and expanded by several European and Northern American artists, among whom the American Lynd Ward was one of the most influential (Beronä). If the genre waned in the 1950s, its influence has been claimed by diverse artists, especially in the comics field. In recent years, key works of the genre were reprinted in France and they are considered important elements of comics’ heritage.
The three parts of this article analyse this current comics valorisation of decades-old woodcut novels. The theoretical model of patrimonialisation (Davallon) helps to shed light on this process, which relies on a specific relationship with the past, made of both rediscovery and reinvention (part I). The editorial paratext of the current reprints plays here a central role. It’s a means to equate “woodcut novels” and “graphic novels” and to bring together distinct fields of artistic creations (part II). The symbolic stakes of this patrimonialising process are important: for comics and for their publishers, it’s part of a quest for legitimacy and for an artistic autonomy that Masereel and Ward could embody (part III).

 

The terminological instability in designing Masereel’s and Ward’s books in their current paratext—and the ambivalences it produces— [see part II] can be interpreted in two ways. On the one hand, this instability reflects the processual nature of this patrimonialisation, consisting in the collective production of an equivalence between woodcut books, and graphic novels and comics. The equivalence is initiated by the publishers, reinforced by its critical reception and then re-appropriated by the publishers. On the other hand, the instability also reflects the symbolic tensions that the editorial paratext tries to manage and to overcome. According to these paratextual indications, the woodcut books are to be seen as comics without being comics, as graphic novels without being ordinary graphic novels, as “wordless novels” but not only, as past works but “modern” and, as such, still relevant. What is at stake here is distinction—within or without the comics field.

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Turning an Entre-deux Situation into a Third Position – Part 3/3[1]

by Jean-Matthieu Méon

 

Woodcut novels form a genre of graphic narratives that emerged in Europe at the end of the 1910s with the works of the Belgian Frans Masereel. It was later explored and expanded by several European and Northern American artists, among whom the American Lynd Ward was one of the most influential (Beronä). If the genre waned in the 1950s, its influence has been claimed by diverse artists, especially in the comics field. In recent years, key works of the genre were reprinted in France and they are considered important elements of comics’ heritage.
The three parts of this article analyse this current comics valorisation of decades-old woodcut novels. The theoretical model of patrimonialisation (Davallon) helps to shed light on this process, which relies on a specific relationship with the past, made of both rediscovery and reinvention (part I). The editorial paratext of the current reprints plays here a central role. It’s a means to equate “woodcut novels” and “graphic novels” and to bring together distinct fields of artistic creations (part II). The symbolic stakes of this patrimonialising process are important: for comics and for their publishers, it’s part of a quest for legitimacy and for an artistic autonomy that Masereel and Ward could embody (part III).

 

The terminological instability in designing Masereel’s and Ward’s books in their current paratext—and the ambivalences it produces— [see part II] can be interpreted in two ways. On the one hand, this instability reflects the processual nature of this patrimonialisation, consisting in the collective production of an equivalence between woodcut books, and graphic novels and comics. The equivalence is initiated by the publishers, reinforced by its critical reception and then re-appropriated by the publishers. On the other hand, the instability also reflects the symbolic tensions that the editorial paratext tries to manage and to overcome. According to these paratextual indications, the woodcut books are to be seen as comics without being comics, as graphic novels without being ordinary graphic novels, as “wordless novels” but not only, as past works but “modern” and, as such, still relevant. What is at stake here is distinction—within or without the comics field.

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Posted by on 2021/05/24 in Guest Writers

 

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The Comics Patrimonialisation of Woodcut Novels

The Paratextual Apparatus of Patrimonialisation – Part 2/3[1]

by Jean-Matthieu Méon

 

 

Woodcut novels form a genre of graphic narratives that emerged in Europe at the end of the 1910s with the works of the Belgian Frans Masereel. It was later explored and expanded by several European and Northern American artists, among whom the American Lynd Ward was one of the most influential (Beronä). If the genre waned in the 1950s, its influence has been claimed by diverse artists, especially in the comics field. In recent years, key works of the genre were reprinted in France and they are considered important elements of comics’ heritage.
The three parts of this article analyse this current comics valorisation of decades-old woodcut novels. The theoretical model of patrimonialisation (Davallon) helps to shed light on this process, which relies on a specific relationship with the past, made of both rediscovery and reinvention (part I). The editorial paratext of the current reprints plays here a central role. It’s a means to equate “woodcut novels” and “graphic novels” and to bring together distinct fields of artistic creations (part II). The symbolic stakes of this patrimonialising process are important: for comics and for their publishers, it’s part of a quest for legitimacy and for an artistic autonomy that Masereel and Ward could embody (part III).

 

 

The patrimonialisation of woodcut novels as comics heritage is based on a double movement: a temporal shift—from the present to the past—and a contextual one—from one field of cultural production (comics) to another (fine arts) [see part I]. The first operator of this patrimonialising process is the reprints of the woodcut works. Reprinting these woodcut novels, and distributing them in bookshops and comic shops, is a first bridging of the temporal and sectoral gaps but the paratext (Genette) of these reprints is also an essential aspect of this process. The paratext helps establish the double continuity between past woodcut novels and contemporary comics, creating a double “suture” (Davallon 114), between periods and between fields. As we’ll see, it also makes the suture seamless, thus naturalizing the result of the process.

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Posted by on 2021/05/17 in Guest Writers

 

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The Comics Patrimonialisation of Woodcut Novels

Patrimonialisation as Retcon? – Part 1/3

by Jean-Matthieu Méon

Woodcut novels form a genre of graphic narratives that emerged in Europe at the end of the 1910s with the works of the Belgian Frans Masereel. It was later explored and expanded by several European and Northern American artists, among whom the American Lynd Ward was one of the most influential (Beronä). If the genre waned in the 1950s, its influence has been claimed by diverse artists, especially in the comics field. In recent years, key works of the genre were reprinted in France and they are considered important elements of comics’ heritage.

The three parts of this article analyse this current comics valorisation of decades-old woodcut novels.[1] The theoretical model of patrimonialisation (Davallon) helps to shed light on this process, which relies on a specific relationship with the past, made of both rediscovery and reinvention (part I). The editorial paratext of the current reprints plays here a central role. It’s a means to equate “woodcut novels” and “graphic novels” and to bring together distinct fields of artistic creations (part II). The symbolic stakes of this patrimonialising process are important: for comics and for their publishers, it’s part of a quest for legitimacy and for an artistic autonomy that Masereel and Ward could embody (part III).

Wordless woodcut novels created in the Twenties and the Thirties are enjoying a renewed editorial and critical interest in France. Six “novels in pictures” by Frans Masereel have been reprinted by Martin de Halleux since 2018 and L’Éclaireur, one exhaustive slipcase set of all six of Lynd Ward’s “novels in woodcuts”, was published by Monsieur Toussaint Louverture in 2020 (see list of works cited). But for one exception (in Walker’s anthology), this is the first French edition of Ward’s woodcut novels and only a few of Masereel’s books had been reprinted as individual books in the preceding years by small literary publishers. On the occasion of these reprints, both bodies of works have been praised as forerunners of the modern graphic novels—if not as graphic novels in their own right. Both of them were also selected for the Angoulême festival award dedicated to comics’ heritage: Masereel’s Idée was nominated in 2019 and Ward’s L’Éclaireur won the award in 2021. The place of these works in the history of comics thus seems formally established, as one more milestone in the form’s past. Jean Davallon’s communication approach to heritage (patrimonialisation) offers a heuristic model to describe this process of (re)insertion of woodcut novels in comics history. It also helps to understand its internal logic as well as its specificity: the retrospective look at the past here is as much one of rediscovery as one of reinvention.

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Posted by on 2021/05/10 in Guest Writers

 

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The Intermittent ComFor Update for January 2021

By Lukas R. A. Wilde

Whereas Natalie Veith remarked that nothing much had happened or changed during the months before her last ComFor update in early October, unfortunately that statement does certainly no longer hold. The German COVID-19 stats were still exceptionally good around that time, but it has become painfully clear now that we have squandered the relative advantage we had. An early “light lockdown” turned into a stricter one in December and the infection numbers were rising dramatically around New Year’s; they are now only gradually falling after all public life has been shut down. A general (legal) work-from-home order remains a mere recommendation from all our discordant state governments, however. Universities, of course, have long settled for online activities entirely, just like in most other countries around the world. The screens and interfaces of our online platforms and tools feel all too familiar by now, for better or worse. As one of the organizers of October’s (8th–10th) annual Comfor Conference on “Comics & Agency” (together with Vanessa Ossa and Jan-Noël Thon), conducted entirely via Zoom with around 140 registered participants and 45 presenters, I was certainly not only excited about the high quality of papers and discussions despite all circumstances, but also surprised by the lack of technical problems, even in comparison with earlier live events where there’s always a missing Mac adapter, an unreadable USB device, or a PowerPoint presentation that just won’t open right. The same is probably true for classes, at least it has been for mine. There’s again a great amount of teaching on comic books going on in German Universities (as well as in Austria and Switzerland). As usual, ComFor has published a list of comic-related classes on offer during our winter term on its website.

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Posted by on 2021/01/29 in ComFor Updates

 

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