Essays are currently being solicited for Comic Books and American Cultural History, a new anthology that will examine the ways in which comic books can be used to help us understand the history of the United States. Each essay of this proposed book will focus on a particular comic book, story/story arc, or graphic novel as a tool for analyzing some aspect of its original cultural and historical context. The essays in this anthology will not focus on the history of comic books per se, but rather on the history of the United States, with comic books being used as primary texts to support specific interpretations of American history. Because of this emphasis on the connections between comic books and America’s past, Comic Books and American Cultural History will prove to be a useful book for comics scholars, historians, and history teachers who want to integrate more popular culture into their courses.
The field of comics studies has seen a proliferation of book-length works in the last twenty years, but few of those books have examined American cultural history. For example, Of Comics and Men, by Jean-Paul Gabilliet, includes a very thorough explanation of the production and distribution history of American comic books, but there is less analysis of the actual content of the comic books themselves. Bradford Wright’s Comic Book Nation does examine some specific stories, but his work is a survey and, as such, cannot go into much depth about any one historical moment. In Secret Identity Crisis, Matthew Costello’s focus on the Cold War allows him to analyze his sources deeply, but other events and comics that do not fit into his framework are sometimes ignored. Comic Books and American Cultural History seeks to build off of these important works while also expanding the scope of comics scholarship by bringing together analyses on a wider variety of topics than what is possible in any of these books. In this way, Comic Books and American Cultural History will be especially useful as a collection of case studies demonstrating the ways in which comic books can be useful primary sources for the study of American cultural history.
The essays in Comic Books and American Cultural History will examine many different comic books and many different topics in American history. Possible sources can range from the 1930s to the present, and the collection will include essays focusing on mainstream, underground, alternative, and independent comics. Historical topics might feature discussions of the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and 9/11, all examined from a cultural history perspective. Essays about aspects of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation will be especially encouraged. The more specific the essay, the better it will fit into this collection in that it will allow for greater depth than would be possible with a more broadly defined primary text and a more broadly defined historical connection.
Completed essays will be between 5,000 and 7,000 words long.
Please send 500 word abstracts, complete contact information, and brief biographies of authors (as Word documents) to:
Economics, History, and Political Science Department
Fitchburg State University
Fitchburg, MA 01420
Abstracts are due December 20, 2010. Completed essays will be due the beginning of June 2011.