Gender and Sexuality in Anglophone Graphic Narratives
Graat On-Line-online is inviting papers for a special issue on gender and sexuality in Anglophone graphic narratives
Essays on all types of graphic narratives are welcome: comics, graphic novels, cartoons, zines… from independent creations to those of formal teams closely supervised by editors, from mass cultural products to avant-garde creations. Contributors will discuss how graphic narratives reflect, ignore or refute social changes, question gender and its institutions or contribute to their consolidation (gender stereotypes, oppression, domination, etc.)
Along with the evolutions of their creators, publishers and readers, the genres, styles and subject matters of graphic narratives have undergone profound changes (since the days of boys’ cowboys and superheroes or even the era of revolutionary underground com ix), and gender issues now appear openly in mainstream comics, cartoons, graphic novels, etc. Some of today’s highly personal and confessional graphic novels constitute a privileged locus of expression of the self, of individual experiences and perspectives. Some graphic novels offer erotic and pornographic narratives that are the focus of increasing academic attention. Their statuses differ greatly depending on their content and readership: male or female-oriented, heterosexual or queer… Linda Williams’s phrase “frenzy of the visible” suggests the particular appropriateness of the medium for eroticism and pornography.
Genre and gender conventions, gendered styles and stereotypes are rife in a field that (although the hegemony is waning) is still largely male-dominated; yet this cannot annul multiple meanings or prevent multiple readings. Critics have often remarked on the intense dialogic relation between graphic narratives and their readers, amplifying processes of appropriation and identification, or, conversely, active—and productive—rejection: Hillary Chute talks of their “productive recursivity”; and this inherently elliptical form demands of its readers that they invest it.
In this visual/verbal medium, gendered embodiment, perception, reception, gazes are also highly significant. Representation is achieved materially, creator and subject are embodied on the space of the page, and the corporeality of gender expression in graphic narratives is inescapable (as it is in life, of course, but in graphic narratives, imagination is the limit). Simultaneously, the very process and possibility of representation are undermined or deconstructed in graphic narratives, through, for instance, the foregrounding of the acts and modes of representation (however realistic, drawing can never achieve the mimetic illusion of film and photography; also, “meta” remarks, moments and images are particularly frequent, and remarkably fluid when compared with novels or films), or the necessity for the reader to fill in the gaps and thus to contribute to the construction of meaning.
Presence and absence (visual representation / elliptical form); time as space, and the simultaneous availability/visual presence of different times and temporalities on the page; the complex interaction of text and image; the mimetic, fantastic, parodic or caricatured relation to the “human” world and experiences, and the simultaneous foregrounding of the creative process—these are just a few of the tensions inherent in the medium, that endow it with representational potentialities which are singularly fecund with respect to issues of gender and sexuality.
(For consideration, complete essays discussing English-language graphic narratives should be submitted by October 15, 2016; in English only; contributors will ascertain that reproduction rights to illustrations are easily obtainable)
Please submit full articles (4000 to 8000 words) to Georges-Claude Guilbert (firstname.lastname@example.org) AND Hélène Tison (helene. tison@ univ-tours.fr)