By Julia Ingold
Finally, spring has arrived in most parts of Germany, and with it some exciting events. The summer term has just started and on our website we have again put together a list of most classes related to comics studies taught at German-speaking universities in various fields like history, literature or didactics. ComFor’s President Stephan Packard and the Comic Studies Working Group’s speaker Véronique Sina, for instance, are organizing a series of lectures at Cologne University under the title “Aktuelle Perspektiven der Comicforschung” (“Recent Perspectives in Comics Studies”). They compiled a broad program to shed some more light on the ever-expanding diversity of the field as an interdisciplinary practice. The speakers are from all different realms of the humanities (and even beyond), such as semiotics, media studies, linguistics, childhood studies, digital humanities, fan studies, sociology, narratology, political science, intersectionality studies, postcolonial studies and Japanese studies. The program intends to give students insights into the flourishing domain of comics studies and to teach them about methodology in media studies in general. For more information on this promising project visit our website.
Everyone in the world of German-language comics – ranging from fans and cosplayers over amateurs/amatrices, to artists and, finally, scholars – is eagerly awaiting the opening of the 18th biannual Erlangen Comic Salon, certainly one of the most intriguing comics events in Germany and beyond! This time around, it is going to spread all over the picturesque city center of Erlangen from May 31st to June 3rd. There will be big public tents, filled to the brink with representatives of publishing houses showcasing new releases, and many international artists will be there for autographs and sketches. Comic Solidarity, the German webcomic artist initiative my colleague Lukas told you about in his last post, is going to host a new artist-run space for comics featuring non-stop readings, discussion groups and workshops. Museums, shops, cafés, bars and newly constructed tents will host a variety of exhibitions of contemporary and classical comic art; ‘second hand comic bookshops’ will pop up all over the place; comic artists are invited for talks and interviews; universities will display and sell little DIY-publications of their fine arts students specializing in illustration or comics. This is the very vanguard where you can discover the future Max and Moritz award winners. This award is certainly the most prestigious one for German-speaking comics artists. By the way, the last winners—Barbara Yelin, Birgit Weyhe, Patrick Wirbeleit and Uwe Heidschötter, Katharina Greve, Mikiko Ponczeck, Wunderfitz and Avant-Verlag—presented their original work in a traveling exhibition during the last two years. Their last host will be the public library of Bremen until April 21. Various institutions will give lectures or short presentations, their topics ranging from comics’ history to comics theory, with a special focus on this year’s main topic: “Comics Journalism”. Of course, ComFor will be represented as well—this year with an exceptionally rich program with eleven scholars. They will talk about such different subjects as “Zu den Eigenschaften des Zeichenblocks als journalistisches Mittel” (“The Sketch Book as a Journalistic Instrument”) (Augusto Paim), “Das Komplott—Will Eisners Comic-Reportage gegen Antisemitismus” (The Plot – Will Eisner’s Comic Report against Anti-Semitism”) (Jennifer Willms), “Von Clark Kent / Lois Lane über Brenda Starr bis Tim und Struppi: Der Topos des Journalisten und rasenden Reporters im Comic. Ein internationaler Vergleich.” (“From Clark Kent / Lois Lane and Brenda Starr to Tintin: The Topos of the Journalist and the Roving Reporter in Comics. An International Comparison” (Martin Frenzel), to name only a few. You will find more about it online once the event draws closer.
In the meantime, there are two remarkable calls for participation for academic comic conventions in Germany at the moment. Both events will be held in English. From September 13 to 15, Free University of Berlin’s PathoGraphics research team is going to host a workshop about “Dementia, Violence, and the Politics of Memory in Contemporary Literature, Film, and Comics”. The papers will be collected into an edited volume or a peer-reviewed special journal issue later. The deadline to submit an abstract is May 13. ComFor members Daniel Stein and Jan-Noël Thon, together with Andreas Rauscher, then invite scholars to discuss “Comics | Games. Aesthetic, Ludic, and Narrative Strategies” from November 5 to 7. The latter symposium is co-organized by the Comics Studies Working Group (AG Comicforschung) and the Game Studies Working Group (AG Games) of the German Society for Media Studies (GfM) (Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft). It will be held in Hanover’s Herrenhausen Palace, that became an advanced congress center after its re-opening in 2013. The location looks like you should definitely submit an abstract! (but no later than April 30)
Finally as we are already talking about the very active Comics Studies Working Group of the GfM, I want to mention this year’s European Network for Cinema and Media Studies conference—even though it will not take place in Germany but rather in the Netherlands’ beautiful capital Amsterdam. Véronique Sina will chair the session with the theme “Addressing and Engaging Audiences through Transmedia Comics Culture” . Three of the four panelists are ComFor members. As you see, there is a lot going on and we would be delighted to welcome you at one or the other event!
Julia Ingold, M.A., is a member of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) and part of its website’s editorial team. She is currently working on her PhD at Kiel University on German-Jewish avant-gardist Else Lasker-Schüler, with a focus on the writer’s graphic art. She also teaches German literature in Kiel and at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. She has published articles on contemporary comics and is one of the editors of CLOSURE – Kieler e-Journal für Comicforschung, a German-language e-journal for the academic study of comics.
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