Nina Mickwitz

Do02Jun10:15Do13:45Nina MickwitzZweiteiliger Workshop zu Comics StudiesVeranstaltungsartWorkshop


Anmeldung bis zum 31. Mai:

Otto-von-Simson-Str. 15, 14195 Berlin, Raum 00.05

The two workshops are offered as connected yet free-standing components. You can choose to participate in both, or any one of them.

Mapping Comics Studies (10-12h)

Graphic narratives are increasingly recognised as a global popular culture phenomenon encompassing expressions and traditions including (but not limited to) comics, comix, comic strips, graphic novels, manga, manhwa, bande dessinée, historietas and histórias de quadrinhos. Some traditions, namely North American/Anglophone comics, Japanese manga and Franco-Belgian bandes dessinée, have for a range of reasons (these will be set out in the introductory talk for this workshop) emerged as dominant in terms of global circulation and readerships. But within these traditions, as beyond them, the diversity of genres should also be acknowledged. Among such genres we might mention superheroes, adventure and historical fiction, war, horror, fantasy, crime, romance, humour, reportage or documentary comics, auto/biographical modes, graphic medicine and more.

At the same time, the study of comics does not have its own faculty or institutional home, and thus lacks the structural supports that a department or recognition at faculty level might offer. This evidently presents challenges for those involved in this area of research, especially as the value and significance of their chosen subject is not as self-evident compared to celebrated cultural forms. Yet this uncertain and improvised base can also be viewed as an asset and strength. As an outcome of the field’s rather precarious institutional position, Comics Studies is marked by its multi-disciplinarity, clearly reflected in the edited collections, journals, conferences and other networks that shape and produce the field.

In this collaborative workshop we will attempt to map Comics Studies in a number of intersecting ways, including scholarly fields and disciplines, regional and national contexts, and academic networks and institutions. This exercise will examine terms such as international (Lent 2010), transnational (Stein, Denson and Meyer 2013), and ‘world literature’ (Hodapp 2022), to acknowledge and examine the uneven sightlines of knowledge production in this cross-disciplinary field. An initial presentation will be followed by group work and allocated tasks, leading to informal small group presentations and a consolidatory discussion.

Genre and Social Justice Agendas in Graphic Narratives (12-14h)
Social justice agendas form a strong (and in many cases fundamental) component in what appears to be a growing proportion of graphic narratives and comic books. This tendency is evident across a broad range of genres, from superheroes and heroines, science fiction and fantasy to memoirs, biographies, advocacy and other, less easily defined categories. We might consider high profile titles such as Ms Marvel and Black Panther: Wakanda as recent examples of large-scale comics producers acknowledging the multiplicity of readerships and re-negotiating the terms of representational repertoires. But there is also an exponentially growing body of socially engaged comics that adopt factual registers and modes of address: from historical revisionist accounts and educational comics about the climate emergency, comics that give voice to migrant experiences as a form of advocacy, graphic memoirs taking as their focus diaspora identities or gender and sexuality, and comics relating the experiences of geo-political power-struggles. Some creators, such as Alison Bechdel, Joe Sacco and Marjane Satrapi to name just a few, have achieved considerable recognition. But there are also huge numbers of lesser known but no less attention-worthy examples to discover and choose from. While longform and print still form important aspects of comics culture, we should take care to also account for shorter form publications and webcomics, as the accessibility of such forms (for creators as well as readerships) can be an important consideration.

In short, graphic novel or comics treatments of social (in)equalities cannot be assigned neatly to specific formats and they encompass both fiction and factual modes. Taking this as its stepping off-point, this seminar will engage participants in close reading, critical and comparative analysis and discussion of examples. The specific aim of the session is to consider the role and impact of genre conventions for the stories told. To what extent is a story shaped by the demand for code switching and heroic acts in a superhero story? What mechanisms are set in motion by the elicitation of pity by a witness testimony? How does humour work as a tool to address difficult topics? What happens when a large-scale and systemic issue is personified in the service of storytelling? What might be the advantages and limitations by the expectations that accompany specific genres?

Participants are invited and encouraged to bring with them examples of their own choice, to add to the selection of works to be analysed.

Dr. Nina Mickwitz, University of the Arts London

Nina Mickwitz is a media and cultural studies researcher, whose interest in popular seriality involves different media forms, with particular focus on comics and television. Originally from an art & design background, she holds a first degree in Illustration. Nina completed her doctoral research on comics and documentary theory in the School of Film, Television and Media at University of East Anglia, and has taught media and cultural studies, as well as contextual studies, at several HE institutions.

An active participant in the academic community, Nina has presented at numerous conferences and contributed to academic forums and publications, both online and in print. Topics to date have included documentary comics, comics history and advertising, Iraq war comics, autobiographical comics, women’s animation film history, comics as advocacy and refugee comics, aesthetics and (non fiction) comics, comics cultures in Latin-America. Nina’s monograph Documentary Comics: graphic truth-telling in a skeptical age (2015) is published by the Palgrave Studies in Comics series. She is a peer reviewer for the journal Studies in Comics (Intellect). 

Nina’s research interests broadly involve popular culture as a space where normative values and collective identities are produced and circulated, but also negotiated and challenged. Current interests include transnational mobilities of both cultural texts and people, in particular the formation of social identities and transnational networks of comics work.

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2. Juni 2022 10:15 - 13:45(GMT+02:00)

Freie Universität Berlin

Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin