a/b: Auto/Biography Studies Share your Research on Migration, Exile, and Diaspora in Graphic Life Narratives

a/b: Auto/Biography Studies

Graphic life narratives, especially memoirs, diaries, and auto/biographies in the form of comics, have flourished over the three decades since the landmark publication of Art Spiegelman’s Maus. As a distinct field that combines life narrative studies and comics studies, graphic life narrative scholarship has gravitated towards texts that visualize stories of the self in relation to memory, history, trauma, and reconciliation within familial, cultural, and national contexts. This special issue seeks to expand the scope of graphic life narrative studies to consider how migration, exile, and diaspora are prominent experiences in print and digital auto/biographical comics.

We invite submissions on graphic life narratives from both traditional centers of comics production (North America, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Japan) and from under-studied regions (e.g. the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, South America, South Asia, the Caribbean). We are especially interested in submissions that take up issues of form as well as content within the transcultural contexts of graphic life narratives about migration, exile, and diaspora.

Some questions this issue may consider:

  • How can cartoonists mobilize the visual-verbal form of comics to represent experiences of forced and voluntary movement in their own lives and the lives of others?
  • How do graphic life narratives of migration, exile, and diaspora contend with memory, trauma, history, and survival in individual lives and across generations?
  • What visual tropes, techniques, and traditions are emerging in migration, exile, and diasporic graphic life narratives? How can comics accommodate transcultural life experiences visually?
  • How does the visual-verbal form engage the reader’s and/or the cartoonist’s sense of responsibility to bear witness to political and personal crises that have prompted the mass movement and displacement of peoples across borders?

We invite contributions that expand disciplinary approaches to auto/biographical comics to include theory and practices of life narrative in postcolonial and diasporic studies, critical refugee studies, globalization studies, digital studies, media and communications, art history, narrative studies, performance studies, disability studies, gender and sexuality studies, war and conflict studies, childhood and youth studies, and critical race theory.

Possible topics could include:

  • autobiographical coming-of-age in exile/in the diaspora
  • intergenerational and intercultural conflict
  • sexuality and sexual coming-of-age
  • racial, cultural, and religious conflict
  • class inequities and differences
  • family dynamics across borders
  • transnational identities
  • border crossings/transgressions/surveillance
  • web comics and digital diasporas
  • memory and nostalgia
  • childhood and the figure of the child
  • maps, mapping, place and placelessness
  • family archives, photographs, albums, and artifacts
  • trauma and resilience
  • testimony and witness
  • domesticity, domicility, hospitality, and home-making
  • visual tropes of movement and mobility
  • ethics of representation and collaboration
  • cultural translation and questions of audience

Submission Instructions

Include a coversheet with your name and contact details with a 50 word bio. Authors must also include a fifty-word abstract and two to four keywords with their submissions. Essays should be 6,000-8,000 words including citations. Citations should be in the Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition.

This journal supports the inclusion of both black & white and color images and publishes ancillary digital and multimedia texts on the journal’s Routledge website. Inquiries welcome.

Images with captions must be submitted in a separate file as 300 dpi (or higher) tif files. It is the author’s responsibility to secure any necessary copyright permissions and essays may not progress into the publication stage without written proof of right to reprint. 

All essays submitted for the special issue, but not selected, will be considered general submissions and may be selected for publication. Inquiries welcome. Submissions are due October 1, 2018.

Please email submissions to the co-editors: Nima Naghibi, Candida Rifkind, and Eleanor Ty.

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Nima Naghibi, Ryerson University
  • Guest Editor: Candida Rifkind, University of Winnipeg
  • Guest Editor: Eleanor Ty, Wilfrid Laurier University