CFP: Family and Conflict in Graphic Narratives

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    Isabelle Hesse

    Family and Conflict in Graphic Narratives, Special Issue for Studies in Comics  

    Call for Articles, Interviews, and Comics

    Even though family relationships are at the heart of many graphic narratives, particularly relationships between parents and children (one can think of examples like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Art Spiegelman’s Maus), few studies have examined how the family is used as a trope in graphic narratives. Considering the role of family is important, as Anne McClintock reminds us, since the trope of the family ‘offers a “natural” figure for sanctioning social hierarchy within a putative organic unity of interests’ (63, original emphasis). In a similar vein, Sarah Harwood has argued the family has become ‘a primary way of organising and understanding [material] reality across all cultural forms’ (3).  Moreover, in discussing how popular literature depicts conflict, specifically the conflict in Israel/Palestine, Toine van Teeffelen has suggested that popular literature ‘tends to metaphorically understand political and social life through the experiences of persons and small groups’ (390). This special issue asks how the trope of the family is used to understand and organise conflict, including how it functions as a way to illustrate material realities and ideologies.  Articles might address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

    • How is the family used as an allegory for the nation?
    • How is the trope of the family used to reflect wider concerns in relation to conflict, including the possibility of a resolution of the conflict?
    • How does the family work to make conflict accessible to outsiders?
    • To what extent are different family members used to illustrate contrasting (political) positions?
    • How is an emphasis on family used to counteract fears about change and fragmentation that are heightened during conflict?

    Please submit

    • Either: an article of 4,000 – 8,000 words (including all quotes, footnotes, references and bibliography)
    • Or: an interview of 2,000- 3,000 words (including all quotes, footnotes, references and bibliography)
    • Or: 4 pages of comics (colour or black and white) 300dpi.
    1. The landscape-oriented format is 20x15cm (landscape) . It is not necessary to completely fill the white space if the images don’t perfectly correspond to those
    2. The portrait-oriented images either presented alone or alongside one another – they will only be printed at a maximum of 15cm tall.
    • AND a separate document with the following metadata (labelled as ‘Title of your article’ metadata)
    1. Article title
    2. Author’s name
    3. Author’s postal and email address (the postal address is needed for your contributor’s copy)
    4. Author’s biography and affiliation (50-100 words)
    5. Abstract (200-300 words)
    6. Keywords (listed one per line, in lower case where applicable)
    7. Wordcount (not necessary for comics contributions)

    by 15th November 2020 to the special issue editors – Please send your submission to the appropriate editor:


    Dr Isabelle Hesse,, Department of English, The University of Sydney; The Politics of Jewishness in Contemporary World Literature: The Holocaust, Zionism, and Colonialism (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)


    Dr Sarah Lightman, sarahlightman@yahoo.comHonorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London The Book of Sarah (Myriad Editions, Penn State University Press 2019)

    The editors will provide initial feedback by 15th January 2021. Revised articles and comics will be due by 1 May 2021 and will then be sent out for double blind peer-review by Studies in Comics.

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