Children’s Literature & Comics/Graphic Novels at MLA 2012

Modern Language Association Conference, 2012 logoFor those who may be heading to the MLA in Seattle (5-8 Jan. 2012), here’s a list of all the panels on either children’s literature or comics/graphic novels. I count sixteen panels exclusively devoted to one or more of these subjects, and an additional nine panels in which one ore more paper addresses either children’s literature or comics/graphic novels.  Based on that tally, I feel fairly confident in claiming that this is the MLA with the most number of panels devoted to either children’s lit or comics/graphic novels.  Incidentally, I arrived at the list below via searching the MLA program – so, it’s possible I’ve missed some.  Also, if graphic narratives are your main interest, then do check out Charles Hatfield’s great list of just the MLA comics panels.


These are the panels in which all of the papers address one or more of the above subjects.

48. Filling the Gaps: The Future of Keywords for Children’s Literature

Thursday, 5 January, 1:45—3:00 p.m., 614, WSCC

A special session

Presiding: Philip Nel, Kansas State Univ.; Lissa Paul, Brock Univ.

1. “Fairy Tale,” Jack D. Zipes, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities

2. “Genre,” Karin E. Westman, Kansas State Univ.

3. “Family,” Kelly Hager, Simmons Coll.; Talia C. Schaffer, Queens Coll., City Univ. of New York

95. The Graphic Novel in Latin America

Thursday, 5 January, 3:30—4:45 p.m., University, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Division on Twentieth-Century Latin American Literature

Presiding: Hilda Chacón, Nazareth Coll. of Rochester

1. “Criminal Melodrama and Hypertrophic Gesture in ¡Alarma! and ¡Casos de Alarma!,” Sergio Delgado, Harvard Univ.

2. “La grabadora: En busca de una historia alternativa,” Javier Gonzalez, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder

3. “Rupay, the Photojournalistic Archive, and the Sendero War,” Kent L. Dickson, California State Polytechnic Univ., Pomona

106. No(Bodies): Ghost Children in Juvenile Literature

Thursday, 5 January, 5:15—6:30 p.m., 305, WSCC

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: Elizabeth Talafuse, Texas A&M Univ., College Station

1. “Invisible Playmates; or, Childhood Ghosts and Adult Comfort in Burnett, Canton, and Kipling,”Judith Abrams Plotz, George Washington Univ.

2. “My Other Me: Ghost Doubles in Nineteenth-Century American Children’s Poetry,” Angela Franceska Sorby, Marquette Univ.

3. “Children of Air: Children’s Poetry and the Spectral Child,” Richard McDonnell Flynn, Georgia Southern Univ.

4. “Embodied in Name Alone: Nobody Owens and the Metonymic Estrangement from the Living and the Dead in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book,” Joseph Michael Sommers, Central Michigan Univ.

181. Graphic Narratives Retelling History: Germany

Friday, 6 January, 8:30—9:45 a.m., University, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Division on Slavic and East European Literatures and the Division on European Literary Relations

Presiding: Ema Vyroubalova, Trinity Coll., Dublin

1. “Sequential Berlin: Jason Lutes’s City of Stones Series,” Ksenia Sidorenko, Yale Univ.

2. “Retelling History in the Borderlands: Jaroslav RudiÅ¡’s Alois Nebel and Bomber by Jaromír 99,”Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant Univ.

3. “Retelling German History with the Graphic Novel,” Elizabeth Nijdam, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor

For abstracts, visit

183. Deep Drawings: Sociopolitical Themes in Anime and Manga

Friday, 6 January, 8:30—9:45 a.m., Virginia, Sheraton

A special session

Presiding: Joshua Paul Dale, Tokyo Gakugei Univ.

1. “Alternative Manga Magazines in Postwar Japanese Comics: Garo and COM,” CJ Suzuki, Baruch Coll., City Univ. of New York

2. “Subversive Cute: The Other Serious Anime and Manga,” Kerin Ogg, Wayne State Univ.

3. “Current-Affairs Comics in a Global Context: The Comic Heart of Darkness,” Marie Thorsten, Doshisha Univ.

Responding: Joshua Paul Dale

264. Self-Destruction in Children’s and Young-Adult Literature

Friday, 6 January, 12:00 noon—1:15 p.m., 615, WSCC

Program arranged by the Division on Children’s Literature

Presiding: Melanie Goss, Illinois State Univ.

1. “Resistant Rituals: Self-Mutilation and the Female Adolescent Body in Children’s and Young-Adult Literature,” Cheryl Cowdy, York Univ.

2. “The Power of the Wound: Manifesting Trauma and Self-Destruction in Young-Adult Fantasy Novels,” Balaka Basu, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

3. “Self-Reconstruction: Youth Agency and the New Reality of Young-Adult Problem Novels,”Robert Bittner, Univ. of British Columbia

4. “The Final Girl Survives: Adolescent Self-Destruction in Teen Horror,” Christopher William McGee, Longwood Univ.

316. Asian Americans and Graphic Narrative

Friday, 6 January, 3:30—4:45 p.m., 303, WSCC

Program arranged by the Division on Asian American Literature

Presiding: Timothy Yu, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

Speakers: Rachelle Cruz, Univ. of California, Riverside; Lan Dong, Univ. of Illinois, Springfield;Tomo Hattori, California State Univ., Northridge; Caroline Kyungah Hong, Queens Coll., City Univ. of New York; Hye Su Park, Ohio State Univ., Columbus; Gene Luen Yang, San Jose, CA

Session Description:

Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, will be the featured speaker in this discussion of Asian American graphic narrative. Graphic novels and memoirs form an increasingly important part of the Asian American literary canon, offering new insights into issues of stereotyping, autobiography, and historical memory. GB Tran’s Vietnamerica, Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, and Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons will be among the works discussed.

371. The Material History of Spider-Man

Friday, 6 January, 5:15—6:30 p.m., 606, WSCC

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives

Presiding: Jonathan W. Gray, John Jay Coll. of Criminal Justice, City Univ. of New York

1. “Written in the Body: Spider-Man, Venom, and the Specter of Biopower,” Ben Bolling, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

2. “Out of Character: Traces of the Real Spider-Man,” Samantha Close, Univ. of California, Irvine

3. “Tangled Web: Spider-Man’s Discontinuous Continuity,” Charles Hatfield, California State Univ., Northridge

Responding: Danny Fingeroth, New York, NY

For abstracts, visit after 1 Dec.

399. How Seattle Changed Comics

Saturday, 7 January, 8:30—9:45 a.m., 303, WSCC

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives

Presiding: Hillary L. Chute, Univ. of Chicago

1. “Ernie Pook and the Emerald City: Lynda Barry’s Seattle,” Susan E. Kirtley, Portland State Univ.

2. “Underground Aesthetics Turned Alternative Critique: Reconsidering Roberta Gregory’sNaughty Bits,” JoAnne Ruvoli, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

3. “Serial Trauma: Awaiting Charles Burns’s X’ed Out,” Christopher Pizzino, Univ. of Georgia

For abstracts, visit after 1 Dec.

434. E-Arming the Future? Technology’s Expanding Influence on the Form and Readership of Young-Adult Literature

Saturday, 7 January, 10:15—11:30 a.m., 303, WSCC

Program arranged by the Children’s Literature Association

Presiding: Thomas Crisp, Univ. of South Florida

1. “Twilight Online Fandom: Reaching Femininity through Textual Manipulation and Abstraction,”Norma Aceves, California State Univ., Northridge

2. “I’ve Got My iPhone on You: Technology and Surveillance Culture in Gossip Girl,” Sara Day, Southern Arkansas Univ.

3. “Utilizing Technology,” Tammy Mielke, Univ. of Wyoming

570. Ethnographic Encounters: Jewish American and Italian American Graphic Narratives

Saturday, 7 January, 3:30—4:45 p.m., 307, WSCC

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Italian American Literature and the Discussion Group on Jewish American Literature

Presiding: JoAnne Ruvoli, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

1. “From Caricature to Complexity: Drawing the Relationship between Italians and Jews in America,” Jennifer Glaser, Univ. of Cincinnati

2. “America Makes Strange Jews: Jewish Identity and Pulp Masculinity in Howard Chaykin’sDominic Fortune,” Brannon Costello, Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge

Responding: Miriam Jaffe-Foger, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

For abstracts, visit after 24 Dec.

579. Why Comics Are and Are Not Picture Books

Saturday, 7 January, 5:15—6:30 p.m., 303, WSCC

Program arranged by the Division on Children’s Literature and the Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives

Presiding: Charles Hatfield, California State Univ., Northridge; Craig Svonkin, Metropolitan State Coll. of Denver

1. “Picture Book Guy Looks at Comics: Structural Differences in Two Kinds of Visual Narrative,”Perry Nodelman, Univ. of Winnipeg

2. “Not Genres but Modes of Graphic Narrative: Comics and Picture Books,” Philip Nel, Kansas State Univ.

3. “Graphic Novels’ Assault upon the Republic of Reading,” Michael Joseph, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

4. “The Panel as Page and the Page as Panel: Uncle Shelby and the Case of the Twin ABZ Books,” Joseph Terry Thomas, San Diego State Univ.

630. Comics, Bande Dessinée, Manga: For a Comparative Approach to the Study of Comics

Sunday, 8 January, 8:30—9:45 a.m., 310, WSCC

A special session

Presiding: Catherine Labio, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder

1. “‘Aint I de Maine Guy in Dis Parade?’: Sympathetic Immigrant Narratives and the Transnational Worker in Early American Comic Strips,” Michael T. R. Demson, Sam Houston State Univ.

2. “Academic Fandom and the Other-ed Side in American Comic Book Studies,” Shawna Kidman, Univ. of Southern California

3. “Masochistic Contracts, Bishōnen, and the Rejection of Futurity: How to Read Manga like a Victorian Woman,” Anna Maria Jones, Univ. of Central Florida

681. Ecocriticism and Literature for Young Readers

Sunday, 8 January, 10:15—11:30 a.m., 613, WSCC

Program arranged by the Division on Children’s Literature

Presiding: Caroline E. Jones, Texas State Univ.

1. “‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Earth Mothers’: Consequences of Feminizing the Earth and Its Keepers in Children’s Picture Books,” Amy Dunham Strand, Aquinas Coll., MI

2. “Winnie-the-Conservationist: An Ecofeminist Reading of Tuck Everlasting,” Peter Kunze, Florida State Univ.

3. “Ecological Repression and Return: An Ecocritical Approach to Bloor’s Tangerine andCrusader,” Beth Feagan, Longwood Univ.

4. “Reading the South: Teaching Adolescents to Identify with Regional Land,” Julia Pond, Illinois State Univ.

699. Graphic Narratives Retelling History: Serbia and Bosnia

Sunday, 8 January, 12:00 noon—1:15 p.m., Virginia, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Division on Slavic and East European Literatures

Presiding: Rossen Djagalov, Yale Univ.

1. “The Nova Dobo Festival of Nonaligned Comics in Belgrade,” Lisa Mangum, Independent Publishing Resource Center

2. “How We Survived War, Sanctions, and NATO Bombing, and Then Laughed: Regards from Serbia by Alexandar Zograf,” Damjana Mraovic-O’Hare, Penn State Univ., University Park

3. “Back into Bosnian: Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Goražde Returns Home from War,” Jessie M. Labov, Ohio State Univ., Columbus

Responding: Martha B. Kuhlman, Bryant Univ.

For abstracts, visit

734. Self-Narrating Lives: Genre-Bending Autobiographical Works

Sunday, 8 January, 1:45—3:00 p.m., 611, WSCC

A special session

Presiding: Johanna Drucker, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

Speakers: Maria Faini, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Anna Gibbs, Univ. of Western Sydney;William Kuskin, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; Vanessa Place, Les Figues Press; Christine Wertheim, California Inst. of the Arts

Session Description:

This session explores the complexities of self-narration across media and formats with particular emphasis on those that blur genre lines. Autobiographical artists’ books, graphic novels are often highly self-reflexive, and their metacharacter as books about books, or subversions of norms, makes them sites of citation and parody in which formal mimicry and content play with readers’ expectations.



Here, I’ve listed only the paper or papers that (as far as I can tell from the title) address the above subjects.

74. Revisiting Emotion and Gender in the Regency

Thursday, 5 January, 3:30—4:45 p.m., 310, WSCC

A special session

Presiding: Alan Rauch, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte

1. “The Mother Attitudes: Ann Taylor’s My Mother, Lady Emma Hamilton, and the Rise of Sentimental Children’s Poetry,” Donelle Ruwe, Northern Arizona Univ.

192. Open Session of the Division on Old English Language and Literature

Friday, 6 January, 8:30—9:45 a.m., 608, WSCC

Presiding: Paul L. Acker, Saint Louis Univ.

2. “Visualizing Femininity in Children’s and Illustrated Versions of Beowulf,” Bruce D. Gilchrist, Concordia Univ.

329. A Creative Conversation with Richard Van Camp: Writing, Language, and Indigenous Expression

Friday, 6 January, 3:30—4:45 p.m., Redwood, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Office of the Executive Director

Presiding: Robert Warrior, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana

Speaker: Richard Van Camp, Univ. of Alberta

Session Description:

Richard Van Camp is an accomplished and innovative writer who brings the language and experience of the Tlicho people of the Northwest Territory into his fiction and children’s books. He writes about the resiliency of Indigenous communities but is not afraid to expose and explore the dysfunctions that have come with colonization. His talents are a rare combination of exuberant humor, stark vision, writerly lyricism, and hard-edged wisdom. Links to the author’s work, including some to his short fiction, are available at

409. Visual and Graphic Representations by Hispanic/Luso/Latina Female Writers and Artists

Saturday, 7 January, 8:30—9:45 a.m., Redwood, Sheraton

Program arranged by Feministas Unidas

Presiding: Magdalena M. Maiz-Peña, Davidson Coll.

2. “La transfiguración femenina: Del animal cínico al terrorismo gótico de la abyección. El comic serial de Cecila Pego y Caro Chinaski,” Carina González, Univ. of Florida

3. “Bodies at the Crossroads: Latinas’ Latina Graphic Narratives,” Margaret Galvan, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

For abstracts, visit

471. Asian/Jewish/American

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon—1:15 p.m., 304, WSCC

A special session

Presiding: Jaime Cleland, Ohio Univ., Athens

3. “Graphic Transformations: Ethno-racial Identity and Discovery in Two Comics of Childhood,”Tahneer Oksman, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

473. Performing Identity in Late Life

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon—1:15 p.m., Virginia, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Age Studies

Presiding: Leni Marshall, Univ. of Wisconsin, Menomonie

2. “Melancholic Morphing: Aging Male Protagonists in Recent American Graphic Novels,” Adrielle Anna Mitchell, Nazareth Coll. of Rochester

486. Visual Culture

Saturday, 7 January, 12:00 noon—1:15 p.m., Redwood, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages

Presiding: Inmaculada Pertusa, Western Kentucky Univ.

2. “Alissa Torres’s Graphic Tale of Grief: American Widow; or, My Husband Bleeds History,” Janis Breckenridge, Whitman Coll.

3. “The Anxiety of Density in Graphic Novels: Solutions Based on Genderic Conventions and Creative Collaborations,” Maria Elsy Cardona, Saint Louis Univ.

692. Human Rights Modes: Testimony

Sunday, 8 January, 12:00 noon—1:15 p.m., 306, WSCC

A special session

Presiding: Michael S. Galchinsky, Georgia State Univ.

1. “Witness/Testimony: Graphic Narrative as Témoignage in the Humanitarian Work of Médecins sans Frontières,” Alexandra W. Schultheis, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro

728. New Paths of Flânerie: Crossings of Gender and Space and the Nineteenth-Century FrenchFlâneur/Flâneuse

Sunday, 8 January, 1:45—3:00 p.m., Aspen, Sheraton

A special session

Presiding: Heidi Megan Brevik-Zender, Univ. of California, Riverside

2. “On the Misfortunes of Child Flaneurs in French Nineteenth-Century Children’s Books,” Pauline de Tholozany, Gettysburg Coll.


Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.