By Lukas R. A. Wilde
It might be a little late to open the 2018 installments of our column with a “happy new year”… but nevertheless: happy new year! As usual, ComFor‘s 2018 started off with our edited lists of international comic book reading recommendations from some of our members. This time around, the participation was exceptionally high, with more than a dozen seasoned scholars, junior researchers and prolific journalists involved.
Since Stephan Packard mentioned Dietrich Grünewald’s 70th birthday in our last post, I would first like to add a quick follow-up: the Comicoskop-journal put together an impressive online portfolio on Grünewald and his work, celebrating his life’s achievements for the academic research of comics and pictorial narratives in Germany and abroad. Only a few weeks later, another one of ComFor’s founding fathers and pioneers had reasons for a toast: at the end of the semester, Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff will be going into retirement, which many of his friends and colleagues took as an occasion for a celebratory colloquium on January 27. Dolle-Weinkauff is the author of many standard works on comics in Europe and has been the director of Frankfurt/M’s Department for Children’s and Young Adult Literature Research (Institut für Kinder- und Jugendbuchforschung) since 1989. His tireless commitment to broadening our knowledge about the prevalence of manga in Germany deserves a special mention. The one-day-event “Comics. Eine Bestandsaufnahme: Archive – Sammlungen – Institutionen” [Comics. An Inventory: Archives – Collections – Institutions] was not just idle celebration. Renowned researchers such as Jaqueline Berndt, Daniel Stein or Felix Giesa attracted about 80 guests and visitors to discuss the state of comics scholarship in Germany and Europe.
Just one week earlier, Dolle-Weinkauff demonstrated the breadth of his knowledge at a public colloquium in Cologne on manga cultures in Germany. Organized by the Japan Foundation on January 19, “Japan Pop goes global? – Japanische Populärkultur und ihre vielschichtige Rezeption in Deutschland” [Japanese Popular Culture and its Multi-Layered Reception in Germany] invited Dolle-Weinkauff, Jaqueline Berndt, Martin Roth, Kristin Eckstein and representatives of Animexx’ (a German volunteer association for the promotion of Japanese popular culture) to discuss the influence of manga, anime, cosplay and Japanese videogames on German contemporary culture. Then, around the time when this column is being published, I should be heading to Gießen where the Comic Studies Board (AG Comicforschung) of the German Society of Media Studies (GfM) is going to host a colloquium on non-fictional and journalism comics (February 22-23). Laura Schlichting and Johannes Schmid invited many colleagues to discuss “Graphic Realities: Comics as Documentary, History, and Journalism”. While I can’t speak about the event yet, given the spectacular line-up of international presenters, it looks like it is not to be missed.
Aside from all the fascinating colloquiums, the first major academic event on my mental radar – I am certainly biased – is going to be my own graduate and post-graduate Winter School from February 27 to March 2. Eleven international keynote speakers and ten junior researchers will be travelling to Tuebingen to discuss “De/Recontextualizing Characters: Media Convergence and Pre-/Meta-Narrative Character Circulation”. Topics concerning comics and manga are especially prominent within the program, focusing on the recontextualization of fictional protagonists across media and participatory cultures. ComFor participants include Jaqueline Berndt (Stockholm), Christina Meyer (Osnarbrueck), Stephan Packard (Cologne), Jan-Noël Thon (Nottingham) and Jeff Thoss (Berlin). Only a few weeks later (March 23 to 25), the Protestant Academy Baden in Karlsruhe is going to host a specialized 3-day symposium titled “Mangas, Graphic Novels und Comics in der Gegenwartskultur” [Mangas, Graphic Novels and Comics in Contemporary Culture]. Once again, Dolle-Weinkauff will be honoring the event with an introductory presentation accompanied by other ComFor members such as Véronique Sina (talking about the representation of the Holocaust in sequential art) and Marie Schröer (focusing on autobiographical comics).
Otherwise, the spring season is (as usual) relatively quiet in terms of conferences and workshops but preparations for a spectacular fall started early this year. As Stephan announced last time, ComFor’s 13th annual conference is going to take place in Cologne once more, from September 17 to 19. Organizers Véronique Sina, Nina Heindl and Christine Gunderman have now published an international Call for Participation on the topic of “Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics”. Focusing on questions how gender, identity and diversity are represented and negotiated in sequential art, the CfP asks to uncover and analyze different kinds of ‘in-betweenness’ not only within the formal expressions of comics themselves, but also within their cultures of production and reception. Participation is open to English-language speakers and to non-members as well, so why not consider joining our discussion with a proposal until April 1st (no April fool there)…?
Another CfP deadline of potential interest for comics scholars was published during the same time: The research group Journalliteratur (journal literature, founded by the German Research Foundation) is inviting researchers to the University of Bochum – unfortunately on the very same dates as the ComFor conference (September 17 to 19). The Bochum event is titled “Interrupted Reading – Follow-on Readings: Reading Journals”, focusing on materially offered reading paths and directions of reading, forms of reflection on journal mediality and journal-specific logics of format and practices of reception. Presentations about (early) comic strips are especially welcome, as are contributions in English (or in French).
For the many, many exhibitions on comic art within German-speaking countries, I can again only direct your attention to our respective homepage section where Alexandra Hentschel is continuously cataloguing larger and smaller events alike. In the past, our editorial board has also regularly pointed out comic festivals, fairs and conventions all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Since their number has been growing exponentially, this has become more and more impractical. Comic Solidarity, a German webcomic and independent artist initiative, has been trying to fill that gap since 2017 (full disclosure: I am one of the coordinators). Visiting http://www.comicsolidarity.de and following the “Kalender” link in the upper bar, you will find a calendar tool in which (almost) all public comic and manga fairs and conventions of 2018 are listed.
We will be back with our next update in two months!
Dr Lukas R. A. Wilde is a post-doc research associate at the Collaborative Research Center 923 “Threatened Order – Societies under Stress” at Tuebingen University, Germany. He studied theatre and media studies, Japanese studies and philosophy at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg and the Gakugei University of Tokyo. His main areas of interest are visual communication, picture and media theory, webcomics and digital comics. He is a member of the coordination team of the Comic Studies Board (AG Comicforschung) of the German Society of Media Studies (GfM), co-organizer of the Webcomic-initiative Comic Solidarity, coordinating editor for the German Society for Comic Studies (ComFor) and member of the editorial board of the journal Medienobservationen. For a list of publications please visit lukasrawilde.de.
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