Coming Soon: Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives


[UPDATE March 28, 2013: The book is now available; see here for more info]

We’re in the home stretch now with Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads (eds. Shane Denson, Christina Meyer, and Daniel Stein). The manuscript is almost through the production phase at Bloomsbury, and everything is set for the book to appear on time in March 2013. A description can be found on the publisher’s website (here), and the book is already up on amazon (US site here; British site here; German site here). A more affordable e-book version is in preparation, and a paperback is planned as well (contingent upon sales of the hardcover — so please ask your library to purchase a copy)!

Here is the final Table of Contents:


John A. Lent

Introducing Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads

            Shane Denson, Christina Meyer, and Daniel Stein

Part I: Politics and Poetics

1          Not Just a Theme: Transnationalism and Form in Visual Narratives of US Slavery

            Michael A. Chaney

2          Transnational Identity as Shape-Shifting: Metaphor and Cultural Resonance in Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese          

            Elisabeth El Refaie

3          Cosmopolitan Suspicion: Comics Journalism and Graphic Silence

            Georgiana Banita

4          Staging Cosmopolitanism: The Transnational Encounter in Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza    

             Aryn Bartley

5          “Trying to Recapture the Front”: A Transnational Perspective on Hawaii in R. Kikuo Johnson’s Night Fisher  

             Iris-Aya Laemmerhirt

6          Folding Nations, Cutting Borders: Transnationalism in the Comics of Warren Craghead III

             Daniel Wüllner

Part II: Transnational and Transcultural Superheroes

7          Batman Goes Transnational: The Global Appropriation and Distribution of an American Hero

             Katharina Bieloch and Sharif Bitar

8          Spider-Man India: Comic Books and the Translating/Transcreating of American Cultural Narrative

             Shilpa Davé

9          Of Transcreations and Transpacific Adaptations: Investigating Manga Versions of Spider-Man

             Daniel Stein

10         Warren Ellis: Performing the Transnational Author in the American Comics Mainstream

              Jochen Ecke

11         “Truth, Justice, and the Islamic Way”: Conceiving the Cosmopolitan Muslim Superhero in The 99

              Stefan Meier

Part III: Translations, Transformations, Migrations

12         Lost in Translation: Narratives of Transcultural Displacement in the Wordless Graphic Novel

              Florian Groß

13         Hard-Boiled Silhouettes: Transnational Remediation and the Art of Omission in Frank Miller’s Sin City

              Frank Mehring

14         The “Big Picture” as a Multitude of Fragments: Jason Lutes’s Depiction of Weimar Republic Berlin

              Lukas Etter

15         “Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together”: The Cultural Crossovers of Bryan Lee O’Malley

              Mark Berninger

16         A Disappointing Crossing: The North American Reception of Asterix and Tintin

              Jean-Paul Gabilliet


Framing, Unframing, Reframing: Retconning the Transnational Work of Comics

              Shane Denson

Film & TV Reading Group: Baudrillard, The Ecstasy of Communication


On December 5, 2013, the Film & TV Reading Group will meet (at 4 pm in room 613, Conti-Hochhaus) to discuss “The Ecstasy of Communication” by Jean Baudrillard (pp. 126 – 134 in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, ed. Hal Foster). Julia Schmedes will moderate the discussion. As always, all are welcome to join us! (Feel free to contact me for more info — email address can be found on the “About” page.)

Extending Play: Rutgers Media Studies Conference

Thanks to Aaron Trammell, who was scheduled to be on the “Game Studies as Media Studies” roundtable with me at the FLOW 2012 Conference, but who was unable to make it due to Hurricane Sandy, I have just learned of an exciting conference going on April 19-20, 2013 at Rutgers University (Aaron is on the organizing committee). The conference is entitled “Extending Play,” and it’s not too late to submit a proposal (but hurry, the deadline is December 1!). Here’s the CFP:

Can we still define play as an organizing principle in today’s technologically mediated world? 

Play can be hard work and serious business, and it’s time to push beyond the conceptualization of play as merely the pursuit of leisure and consider how the issues of power, affect, labor, identity, and privacy surround the idea and practice of play. The Rutgers Media Studies Conference: Extending Play invites submissions that seek to understand play as a mediating practice, and how play operates at the center of all media.

We are interested in all approaches to the traditions, roles, and contexts of play, and hope to explore how play can be broadly defined and incorporated as a fundamental principle extending into far-flung and unexpected arenas. Johan Huizinga characterizes man as the species that plays: “Law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primaeval soil of play” (Homo Ludens, p.5).  How does play operate as a civilizing function — or is it perhaps a technology that produces order?

Play is a means of exploring and joining various disciplines: Social media, mash-ups, and blogs have altered how we communicate and create; game design has influenced how businesses relate to consumers; citizen journalists have shifted the role of the professional in mediating information and forging a public sphere.

To explore these questions, we invite scholars, students, tinkerers, visionaries, and players to the first ever Rutgers Media Studies Conference: Extending Play, to be held April 19th and 20th, 2013 on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Confirmed speakers for our keynote conversations include Fred Turner (Stanford University) & Stephen Duncombe (New York University) and Trevor Pinch (Cornell University) & Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky (The European Graduate School).

We invite individuals from media studies and related fields in the humanities and social sciences to participate. Potential topics for paper, panel, roundtable, and workshop may include, but are not limited to:

-Playing with labor: work-like games and game-like work
-Play as resistance (culture jamming, situationist art, or other contexts)
-Gendering (and gendered) play
-Music and performance
-Linguistic play
-Play and social media
-Playing with identity
-Love and play (flirtation, AI relationships, robotica, etc)
-Gamification and games in nontraditional settings
-Transgression, cheating, and “gaming” systems
-Darker side of play (trolling, gambling, or corruption)
-Game studies

The Rutgers Media Studies Conference: Extending Play promises to offer a memorable meeting of scholarship, and to that end, we are looking to play with standard conference conventions. One track throughout the conference will be a series of public workshop sessions in which scholars and practitioners will host roundtable discussions on contemporary issues that bring together an audience of experts and interested parties. In the academic panel track, each presenter will have a maximum of 15 minutes to offer his or her ideas as a presentation or interactive conversation, and will choose one of the following methods of presentation:
–material accompaniment (hand out a zine, scrapbook, postcard series, etc)
–performance (spoken word, song, verse, dance, recording, etc)
–limited visuals (a maximum of 3 slides and 25 total words)
–game (create rules and incorporate audience play)
For additional ideas on how to play with media, play with time, or play with space during your presentation, visit our Style Guide.

The deadline for proposals is Saturday, December 1, 2012. We invite individual proposals, full panel proposals (of four members), and proposals for roundtable and workshop sessions. Please email an abstract of approximately 247 words, along with your name, affiliation, presentation method, and a short biography to If you are interested in proposing a topic for our public workshop track, or are interested in participating in one, please indicate that as well. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by mid-January 2013.

For more info, see the conference website:

Man with a Movie Camera (1929): Movies, Machines, Modernity

On November 29, 2012, we will be screening Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929), the second film in our series “M: Movies, Machines, Modernity.” (See here for a flyer with more details about our film series, and here for a short video introduction that frames it conceptually.)

In his discussion of Man with a Movie Camera, Roger Ebert begins with the following observation:

In 1929, the year it was released, films had an average shot length (ASL) of 11.2 seconds. “Man With a Movie Camera” had an ASL of 2.3 seconds. The ASL of Michael Bay‘s “Armageddon” was — also 2.3 seconds.

If, as I have argued, Michael Bay’s post-cinematic filmmaking captures something of the nonhuman processing of contemporary life by algorithmic means, then Dziga Vertov’s captured something of the machinic materiality of the modern age — a similarly nonhuman view emphasized in the Kinoks movement (from “kino-oki” or kino-eyes) to which Vertov belonged. From the Wikipedia article on “Kinoks”:

The Kinoks rejected “staged” cinema with its stars, plots, props and studio shooting. They insisted that the cinema of the future be the cinema of fact: newsreels recording the real world, “life caught unawares.” Vertov proclaimed the primacy of camera (“Kino-Eye”) over the human eye. The camera lens was a machine that could be perfected infinitely to grasp the world in its entirety and organize visual chaos into a coherent, objective picture.

But perhaps coherence is in the eye (or kino-eye) of the beholder. As Ebert remarks,

There is a temptation to review the film simply by listing what you will see in it. Machinery, crowds, boats, buildings, production line workers, streets, beaches, crowds, hundreds of individual faces, planes, trains, automobiles, and so on.

In many ways, the film resembles what the object-oriented ontologists, following Ian Bogost, call the “Latour litany“: a rhetorical device, consisting in a list of apparently unrelated things, which peppers the writings of Bruno Latour and is employed extensively in OOO to emphasize the plurality of things or objects populating the world and to encourage a break with our normal tendencies to view them anthropocentrically. Bogost recommends the device in his Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing, and perhaps it’s fair to see Vertov’s general project of the Kino-Eye, and its specific expression in Man with a Movie Camera, as precisely an alien-phenomenological undertaking, designed to help us feel “what it’s like to be a thing” in the modern age.

As for the connection with Michael Bay-style “chaos cinema” and the post-cinematic discorrelation of digital images from the human subject, a recent project, the “Global Participatory Remake” of Man with a Movie Camera, brings the two types of alien phenomenologies — the contemporary algorithmic/database-driven and Vertov’s filmic kino-eye — together in an exciting way. At the same time, this project might be seen to raise some rather unsettling questions. What is the relation of contemporary “participatory culture” to the ideals of socialism, when the empowerment experienced by the participants is grounded in the same informatic infrastructure that turns our own entertainment into “immaterial labor” exploitable by corporations wielding algorithms incommensurable with our human concerns, values, perspectives? While the “Global Remake” is hardly guilty, I think, of such exploitation, it enjoins us materially to attend to media-historical and political changes, and to recall that while Vertov’s project was undertaken in the cause of the Revolution, we still have to assess what the revolutionary potential might be — if any, either historical or contemporary — of an alien phenomenology…

As always, the screening (6:00pm on Thursday, Nov. 29, in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus) is free and open to all, so spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us. Feel free also to bring along snacks and refreshments. More info here and here.

Walter Benjamin & the Wizard of Oz

Tomorrow (November 14, 2012), there are two events at the University of Hannover that might be of interest to readers of the blog.

First up, there’s the first meeting this semester of the Film & TV Reading Group (see the flyer here), where we’ll be discussing Walter Benjamin’s famous Artwork essay. We’ll meet from 4 to 6 pm in room 613 (Conti-Hochhaus). The reading group always welcomes new participants, so please spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us!

Second, and immediately following the reading group, Frank Kelleter will be giving a talk entitled “Massenkultur, Serienkultur, Populärkultur am Beispiel des Wonderful Wizard of Oz und seiner Variationen” [roughly: Mass Culture, Serial Culture, Popular Culture, with Reference to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its Variations]. The talk, from 6 to 8 pm in room 103 (Conti-Hochhaus), will take place in the context of the seminar “Massenkultur: Unterhaltung, Konsum, Medialität” [Mass Culture: Entertainment, Consumption, Mediality], which is being jointly taught by Ruth Mayer and Michael Gamper. Frank Kelleter is professor of American studies in Göttingen and the speaker for the DFG Research Group “Popular Seriality — Aesthetics and Practice” (in which Ruth Mayer and I are collaborating on the project “Serial Figures and Media Change”). He has recently published a chapter entitled “‘Toto, I Think We’re in Oz Again’ (and Again and Again): Remakes and Popular Seriality” in Film Remakes, Adaptations and Fan Productions: Remake / Remodel, edited by Kathleen Loock and Constantine Verevis.

In Media Res: Teen TV & Pedagogy

This week (November 12-16, 2012), my colleague Florian Groß participates in a theme week entitled “Teen TV and Pedagogy,” over at In Media Res. Each day’s contribution, consisting of a video clip of up to three minutes accompanied by a short essay of 300-350 words, is designed to serve as a conversation starter aimed at involving a broad audience in discussion of key topics relating to television aimed at teen audiences.

To participate in the discussion, you will need to register beforehand at In Media Res. (Registration is simple, but it can sometimes take a while for user accounts to be generated, so it is recommended that you register asap.)

Here is the lineup of presenters/curators for the theme week, along with the titles:

Monday, November 12, 2012 – Phoebe Bronstein (University of Oregon) presents: A Huge Cancellation and the ABC Family Brand

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 – Chris Tokuhama (University of Southern California) presents: “We Don’t Need Another Hero: Individualism and Self-Reliance in Teen Television”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 – Florian Groß (Leibniz Universität Hannover) presents: “Rebels with a Cause: Creativity and the Teen Drama”

Thursday, November 15, 2012 – Joe Barton (Newcastle University) presents: “British Student Sitcoms, Teen Television, and Neoliberal Pedagogy”

Friday, November 16, 2012 –  Chelsea Bullock (University of Oregon) presents: “’This is an unstable environment’: Teen Mom 2 and Class”

The theme week is organized by Karen Petruska (Northeastern University).

M: Movies, Machines, Modernity — An Introduction

Above, a somewhat streamlined and re-focused version of the talk I gave last Thursday at the first screening in our film series “M: Movies, Machines, Modernity.” Text and video: Shane Denson. Music: Jared C. Balogh, “Break in the Action,” licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike License.

Metropolis (1927): Movies, Machines, Modernity

Our film series “M: Movies, Machines, Modernity” kicks off tomorrow night (November 8, 2012, at 6:00 pm in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus) with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The screening is free and open to all, so spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us. Feel free also to bring along snacks and refreshments. And for more info about the film series, see here: M: Movies, Machines, Modernity.