Who Belongs, Who Does Not: The Use of Comics as Literatures of Resistance


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Creative Writing, Editing and Publishing

Kay Sohini Kumar (SUNY Stony Brook University)

This proposed creative panel seeks to examine how artist-scholars can combine their scholarship and their creative skills to articulate various forms of marginalization. I intend to solicit creative works that lie at the intersection of the textual and the pictorial, which push the boundaries of scholarly inquiry by incorporating the artistic, in an effort to make research more accessible to people outside the academe. As a comic scholar and artist, I firmly believe in the versatility of its hybrid form and its ability to solicit deeply affective responses (which cannot be achieved by purely empirical data). Hence, I would like to invite creative forms of research that, in a somewhat meta-manner, examine how the conflation of words and images can be used to tangibly represent and make visible the experiences of minorities, such as: those living with mental, physical, and invisible illnesses; people who are culturally, socially, or racially Othered.

At a time when our society is becoming increasingly hostile to immigrants, to disabled people, to racial Others, it is extremely important to look into literatures of resistance that appeal for social justice without being pedantic. This session would provide an opportunity for scholars who are interested in comics, who study various forms of visual literacy, and/or who are artists themselves. It would bring together such diverse voices to examine and establish how this intersectional approach to literature can be utilized by scholars and artists alike to make various forms of social crises palpable to readers across disciplinary boundaries.

Primary questions that the session would consider:

1. How can the comic medium be used for auto-ethnographic research, so as to subvert stereotypical discourses of minority lives as are often seen in the canon?

2. How can we use Image-textual forms of inquiry to theorize different forms of marginalization, in an effort to move readers out of inaction and apathy for social causes?

This creative session examines how graphic storytelling can be utilized to diminish the alienation between readers and their subject matter, and to humanize the struggle of marginalized and minority subjects. Seeking proposals that push disciplinary boundaries by conflating academic inquiry with the creative, in an effort to make research more accessible and affective.