Call for Papers: "Comics and Childhood"

Fourth Annual University of Florida Comics Conference

Gainesville, FL
February 23-25, 2006.

Deadline for Abstracts: December 1, 2005.

The University of Florida's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the 2006 UF Conference on Comics: "Comics and Childhood," which will be held in Gainesville, Florida, on February 23-25 2006.

This fourth annual conference on comics will focus on the theme of comics and childhood, particularly the use of image and text in the hybrid forms of comics and children's literature. This conference will focus on comics and children's literature in terms of illustration, sequence, serialization, and their connections as hybrid works of image and text. Because of the emphasis on illustration and the sequencing of illustration in both forms, comics and children's literature often utilize similar techniques. This conference will examine these techniques and their relationship to comics and children's literature as oriented around several key themes:

  • How does the serial nature of comics and children's literature influence and impact individual works and the fields themselves?
  • What is the significance of sequence? How does sequence impact the illustrative style?
  • What constitutes illustration? How are illustration norms and techniques established in each form and to what extent?
  • What techniques cross over from comics into children's literature or vice versa? What techniques do not cross over and why?
  • What techniques cross over from animation into children's animation and children's programming in general (including television shows that include both live action and animation) or vice versa? What techniques do not cross over and why? How do these animation techniques impact printed works?
  • To what extent are genre restrictions in children's literature and comics limiting, and to what extent are they liberating or generative?
  • How does audience impact comics and children's literature in general? in terms of illustrative style and content? in terms of critical reception and archivization?

In addition, the conference seeks to examine how comics and children's literature have been treated and constructed given their hybrid representations and, in turn, how these have allowed for subversive possibilities in both children's literature and comics. Papers may feature an argument about particular works within these forms and/or address critical approaches to the forms themselves.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • History and evolution of the comics in relation to children's literature.
  • Cross pollination between comics and children's literature authors and artists (Ian Falconer, Neil Gaiman, Berkeley Breathed, Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, William Steig).
  • The Comics Code for comic books and regulations involving animation because they were viewed to be children's works.
  • Disney's role in comics and in making comics into children's texts.
  • Rising circulation in the USA of anime and manga for children (including translation of anime and manga for American audiences, and for children).
  • Significance of regulation and awards for recognizing 'quality' works, including the importance of the Comics Code seal of approval, the Caldecott Award and Honor Emblems, the Eisner Award, and others.
  • Synthesis of comics and children's literature with comicesque works for children like Mo Willems' works, picture books that could be classed as comics, as with Gaiman's "Stardust," and with works like Jeff Smith's "Bone," which is now being distributed by Scholastic.
  • Animation being treated as a 'children's form', often being embedded in other children's programming like "Sesame Street" and "Pee Wee's Playhouse" as well as being often used to present children in non-children's shows (the focus on children characters in "The Simpsons," "South Park," "Family Guy," and others).
  • Subversive workings of comics and children's literature due to their marginalized positions and due to difficulties in regulating hybrid forms.
  • Revisionist traditions in comics and children's literature, particularly comics that revise children's literature works and children's literature works that revise comics ("Castle Waiting," "Fables," "Courtney Crumrin," "Nightmares and Fairytales," "Sleeping Beauty," and "Classics Illustrated").
  • Cultural translation with animation, anime, comics, and children's literature (manga and anime being rewritten to be less violent for US viewers and readers).
  • Big Little Books and Better Little Books.
  • Issues of archiving and access in regards to comics and children's literature as it relates to their changing, mutable, and often ephemeral forms.
  • Questions of audience with original comic strips at turn of century for mass audiences and children's literature seen as 'for all ages.'

Abstract submissions should be approximately 250-500 words in length. Presentations will be 15 minutes with 5 minutes of question and answer. The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday, December 1, 2005. We accept abstracts in electronic form (preferred) or print.

Please submit proposals by email to Cathlena Martin and Laurie Taylor (cmartin@english.ufl.edu and Ltaylor@english.ufl.edu)

Alternatively, send hard copies to:
Donald Ault
Department of English
Univ. of Florida
4008 Turlington Hall
P.O. Box 117310
Gainesville, FL 32611-7310