Eddie Campbell Daniel Clowes Will Eisner Joe Sacco Terry Zwigoff
The University of Florida's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the nascent Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, are pleased to announce the 2002 UF Comics Conference, The Will Eisner Symposium. This new conference, on the art and literature of the comics medium, will be an annual event at the University of Florida. The inaugural topic, in honor of Will Eisner, will be "The Graphic Novel: Form and Function." Bringinging together artists and academics, the Symposium will be held at the University of Florida on Febuary 20th and 21st, 2002.

Participants for the Symposium are artists Will Eisner, Joe Sacco, Eddie Campbell, Daniel Clowes, and Terry Zwigoff, along with comic scholars Thomas Inge, Joseph Witek, and Donald Ault.

Since the 1827 production of "Monsieur Vieux Bois" the graphic novel has been perceived as a hybrid cultural form. With the juxtaposition of words and pictures, the intersection of literature and art, the blending of high satire and low caricature, the modern graphic novel has always been an intermediary description, seen as either a valorization of comics or as a bastardization of literature, or even both at once. As the contemporary comics medium has moved from pamphlets and albums towards longer, more sustained narratives, the graphic novel has opened up a variety of new artistic pathways, in terms of both diegetic and stylistic possibilities. Artists and writers have engaged and modified serialization and sequentiality to suit new needs, new audiences, and new modes of visual narrative.

This Symposium will focus on the material history, contemporary production, and critical reception of this diverse form, and allow graphic novelists and academic critics to discuss what the graphic novel is, what it can do, and where, as a form, it is heading. The Symposium hopes to engage with some of the critical and commercial problematics the graphic novel produces for the language of comics, as well as examine the relationship of graphic novels to other forms of art and entertainment. Particular topics and concerns will include:
  • Language(s) of visual narrative in the Graphic Novel
  • Poetics, Semiotics, Play: theoretical approaches to Graphic Novels
  • Graphic Novels as Journalism and as History
  • Hollywood and the Graphic Novel
  • Graphic Novels within the development of the comics medium
  • Satire, Caricature, Critique: political aspects of the Graphic Novel
  • Narrative and Style: textual production within the Graphic Novel
  • Collaboration and Influence: Graphic Novels and plural authorship

Papers that address the theme of the Symposium are welcome, but those relating to any aspect of the graphic novel will also be considered for panels.

Submitted papers should be no longer than 2500 words or an approximate reading time of 25 minutes. Abstracts of up to 250 words are requested for inclusion in the conference program and the forthcoming Symposium webpage. Published proceedings may also be issued in the near future.

Deadline for submissions is the 30th of January, 2002. We require that you have abstracts submitted by this date in order to give us time to review them and draft responses. Acceptance notifications will be delivered no later than January 31st, 2002. Submissions are acceptable by email, or by Postal Mail.

UF Comics Conference 2002: The Will Eisner Symposium
Department of English
PO Box 117310
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7310

Email submissions of abstracts, or questions about the conference, may be sent to Dr. Donald Ault or to John F. Ronan.

The Will Eisner Symposium is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida, along with the UF Department of English, and the nascent Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere.