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Category Archives: Gender

Allies and Disability Representation in Contemporary Russian Comics

José Alaniz

University of Washington, Seattle

Note: all translations are the author’s own.

 

Corrections Class (Klass korrektsii, d. Ivan Tverdovsky, 2015) is a hard-hitting film about disability in Russia. In one scene, a mother, Svetlana Viktorovna (Natalya Pavlenkova), struggles to push her paraplegic teen daughter Lena (Maria Poyezhayeva) in her wheelchair up a two-track cement ramp outside her high school. But the ramp, which we had seen in the process of construction earlier in the movie, has a fatal flaw: a gap of several inches between it and the sidewalk – too wide for a wheelchair to overcome. Worse than useless, the ramp is a spit in the face, a bureaucratic nod to inclusivity with no actual follow-through. It drives Svetlana Viktorovna, who has more than enough troubles in her life, to hiss with rage: “Thank you very much, my dears. Great job.”[1] Equal parts maudlin melodrama, documentary exposé and black farce, the scene is not exactly fiction (though the film is). It had a real-life basis.

In the fall of 2012, a popular series of memes emerged on the Runet (Russian internet): pictures of the many inaccessible spaces for wheelchair-users in Russian cities, turned into absurdist set decoration by ramps built impossibly steep; ramps with trees and other objects blocking the way; broken ramps with wide cracks; and ramps leading to/from nowhere (e.g., into walls). “The inaccessible-ramps meme gained popularity not as [a] representation of the problem of disability inclusion in Russia,” wrote anthropologist Cassandra Hartblay, “but as a joke about the country’s infrastructure, ironic evidence of dysfunction in Russian daily life” (“Good”: 3).[2] Hartblay goes on to call the ramps “an overdetermined symbol, or a red herring for access” in postsocialism (“Good”: 4).

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Symposium Report for “Drawing Gender: Women and French-language Comics”

by Morgan Podraza

French Comics Poster

During the weekend of 28–29 February 2020, scholars from France, Belgium, the United States and the United Kingdom came together for “Drawing Gender: Women and French-language Comics,” a symposium presented and sponsored by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in partnership with the Department of French and Italian at the Ohio State University. Framed by the events surrounding the 2016 Angoulême International Comics Festival in which the nominations for the Grand Prix included all men and happening in coordination with the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum’s exhibit “Ladies First: A Century of Women’s Innovations in Comics and Cartoon Art,” the symposium was dedicated to the representation of and contributions by women in comics within the Francophone world. Thus, central discussions during the symposium were concerned with not only bringing the work of women to the foreground but also calling attention to the ways that women’s experiences and identities are conveyed through such work. Importantly, these conversations also highlighted and engaged with artists and works that expanded beyond the boundaries of any one identity—including a range of languages; nationalities; sexual and gender identities; and social and cultural backgrounds—in order to further emphasize the incredible contributions of creators who have not been historically canonized.

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CfP: Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics (ComFor 2018, Cologne)

The conference topic Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics will draw our attention to the nexus between the medium of comics and categories of difference and identity such as gender, dis/ability, age, and ethnicity, in order to open and deepen an interdisciplinary conversation between comics studies and intersectional identity studies within the international comics studies community. In this respect, the 13th annual conference of the German Society for Comics Studies will not only contribute to the disclosure of exclusions, power structures and (hetero)normative allocations in comics, but will also critically analyse their socio‐political and communicative forms of (re)production.

Potential topics for contributions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • constructions of gender in comics

  • the interplay of gender and genre in comics
  • conceptions of identity and their (de)construction in comics
  • intersectionality and comics
  • the (re)production and constitution of difference and power structures in comics
  • manifestations of heteronormative structures and allocations in comics
  • mechanisms of hegemonic exclusion(s) in comics
  • queerness and comics
  • historic dimensions of identities in comics
  • diversity and normalisation processes in comics
  • race, class and ethnic stereotypes in comics
  • comics and postcolonial studies
  • body images in comics
  • representations of dis/ability in comics
  • the interrelation of comics, health and corporeality in the realm of graphic medicine
  • economies of difference: gender, identity and diversity on the (international) comics market
  • spaces between, centres and peripheries: transnationality and diversity in comics culture

See the PDF here for more information.

 
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Posted by on 2018/03/15 in Gender, General

 

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Bangladeshi Women Creating Comics

by Sarah McNicol

Comics are, of course, found in many cultures, from Japanese manga and Chinese manhua to South and Central American historietas, and Filipino komiks that draw on traditional folklore as well as elements of mainstream US comics. Moreover, it has been argued that comic books “have always been attuned to the experiences of immigrant Others” (Davis-McElligatt, 2010: 137). Graphic narratives have long played a crucial role in representing and constructing immigrant subjects and the immigrant experience. Today, several of the most widely known graphic novels address issues of migration including Chris Ware’s (2001) Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel (2007) The Arrival. The latter is often said to depict a universal story of migration, telling “not an immigrant’s story, but the immigrant’s story” (Yang, 2007). Nevertheless, it is explicitly the story of a man’s migration as he leaves his wife and daughter behind to make a better life in a new land. At the end of his struggles, the man reunites with his family who, it would appear, settle seamlessly into their new life without experiencing any of the hardships he has endured. Discussing literature more broadly, Pavlenko (2001: 220) argues, “immigrant women’s stories were continuously ignored by the literary establishment” despite the fact that female migrant life writing often explores different themes from those of traditional male autobiographies.

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Queering the Western? Questions of Genre, Gender, and Normativity in Rikke Villadsen’s Et Knald Til (2014)

By Charlotte Johanne Fabricius

 

How can one queer a comics genre – especially one rooted in patriarchal tradition, rife with male gaze and stereotypical gender roles? I consider ‘queering’ to be not only an inclusion of nonnormative gender and/or sexual identities, but a broader strategy of ‘making strange’[i]. Furthermore, I consider the comics medium to be an especially interesting site in which to investigate such ‘strangeness.’ This idea has previously been offered by, amongst other, Ramzi Fawaz, who, in The New Mutants (2016), draws upon queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s idea of queerness as “gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances”, which manifest themselves as “formal gaps, overlaps, dissonances, and resonances of comic book visuality.”[ii] I speak of queering as not only a ‘making unfamiliar’, but also of ‘making possible’ different futures and logics than presented in traditional version of a genre. In the following, I investigate one such attempt, the comic Et Knald Til (Another Bang), which has been characterised by publishers as an ‘erotic Western’.

Et Knald Til[iii] is written and drawn by Rikke Villadsen, published in 2014 by the Danish Publishing House Aben Maler, and nominated for a Ping Prize for Best Danish Comic Book in 2014. It tells the story of a quintessential Western town, inhabited by cowboys and loose women. An outlaw with a price on his head comes to town, kills the men who try to stand in his way, solicits a prostitute – who explodes after their intercourse – and has a drink at the saloon before retiring to a room in the same establishment. Parallel to these goings-on is the story of a young woman in the town who dreams of being a man, so she can leave the town to go adventuring. When the outlaw arrives, she steals his horse and the clothes of one of his victims and sets out. When she starts menstruating, however, the horse recognises her sex and throws her off, leaving her to an uncertain fate. The story concludes with the outlaw waking up in his room only to discover that he has been transformed into a woman identical to the one whose story the reader has been following.

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Posted by on 2017/04/03 in Gender, Guest Writers, Women

 

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