*CFP: Monstrous Women in Comics—an Interdisciplinary Conference on Women in Comics and Graphic Novels*

*CFP: Monstrous Women in Comics—an Interdisciplinary Conference on Women in
Comics and Graphic Novels*


The relationship between women and the comics industry is contested perhaps
now more than ever before. Fresh conflicts in mainstream presses reveal
lingering aversions to women creators, and fan-reactions to reboots
demonstrate similar dis-ease with “non-canonical” re-imaginings of female
characters. Far from being novel, these tensions are rooted in the very
history of western comics. From the Golden Age, women were erased or
marginalized in comics through, for instance, the use of “gender-neutral”
monikers. Female characters were aesthetically constructed to meet and
satisfy the male gaze and overwhelmingly, their narratives were penned by
male authors. Women readers of comics were historically “pandered to” with
romance comics but were otherwise ignored as a target audience. Even within
the medium of graphic novels, where women’s work has arguably been more
visible, women creators are being erased by industry-standard events like
the Angoulême Festival. Here, as in other areas of popular culture, women
are treated in very Aristotelian ways—at best, they are deemed to be
monstrous derivatives of men, and at worst, they are simply monsters for
daring to enter what has been overwhelmingly characterized as man’s domain.
>From a feminist perspective, there is ample room for critique of the ways
in which women in comics are made into monsters, but now we want to ask if
that is all there is? Must a theoretical investigation of monstrous women
in comics be limited to surveys of marginalization and erasure?

Building on the work of postmodern scholars like Donna Haraway, and
following from recent iterations of Monster Studies, we seek to critically
engage with, and re-evaluate, monstrous women in comics. For Haraway, the
figure of the monster is one who simultaneously illuminates and threatens
boundaries; the monster is a creature who resides in borderlands and
embodies transgression; she is the imbrication of text, myth, body, nature
and the political—she is neither “self” nor “other.” To be deemed monstrous
is to be situated in the margins, to be placed outside, and yet the monster
is one who always threatens those margins, who promises to leak into and
over. Constructively engaging with the monstrous can ultimately lead us
into an “imagined elsewhere,” the monster can be full of promises.
Therefore, we are seeking interdisciplinary examinations of monstrous women
in comics not only in order to critically question and contest normative
boundaries, but also to begin to imagine how the relationship between women
and comics might be otherwise.

We invite all interested participants to join us in thinking about
monstrous women in comics across genres: papers may engage with historical
studies of women in comics, mainstream comics, graphic novels, indie
comics, religious comics, or web comics. Paper proposals, in the form of
250-word abstracts, may also address—but are not limited to—any of the
following topics:

-The monstrosity of (early) women creators

-Romance comics and “girl comics” as monstrous

-Female characters as monstrous derivatives of male superheroes

-Women characters/creators/readers as monstrous because of their sexuality,
corporeality, race, religion, or (dis)ability

-Monstrous female characters as manifestations of patriarchal

-Monsters who are female

-Female characters who transgress human/inhuman boundaries

-Women readers/fans as monsters

-Women fan/creator collectives as transgressive & monstrous

-Maternity and monstrosity

-Indie & web comics as monstrous

-Monstrous feminism & comics

In order to further emphasize the fruitfulness of transgressing boundaries
and engaging with the monstrous, this conference also seeks to leak over
the boundaries of academia by inviting women comics creators who would like
to submit their work for a temporary gallery exhibition and/or who would be
interested in tabling the event. All interested creators/vendors should
email a short bio and any relevant links to portfolios or previous works.

Accepted participants will be invited to present their 20-minute papers, or
to exhibit their work, at a two-and-a-half-day interdisciplinary conference
at the University of North Texas in Denton. To submit a paper proposal, or
to express interest in exhibiting/tabling, please send an email to
monstrouswomen@gmail.com with the following information:

·      Name, institutional affiliation, email address

·      250-word abstract (if applicable)

·      Short bio & portfolio links (if applicable)


Dr. Samantha Langsdale


Philosophy & Religion

University of North Texas