Confessional comics daunt and inspire one of our colleagues

David Brauner writes:

Over the years I have given many conference papers on many different subjects in many different locations to many different audiences. However, the paper I gave on 12th November at the ‘Graphic Details: Communities of Experience’ symposium held at JW3, the new Jewish cultural centre in London, was a first in a number of respects. Although I published an essay on a number of Jewish women graphic novelists in a collection published earlier this year, entitled Graphic Details: Essays on Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, edited by Sarah Lightman, one of the co-organisers of this conference, and I gave a brief, informal talk at the opening of the exhibition that inspired the symposium and the essay collection, ‘Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women’ (currently showing until 13th December at the Space Station Sixty Five gallery in Kennington), I had never given a formal paper before on what is still a relatively new interest of mine. 

Graphic Details

What made this prospect particularly intimidating was that two of the artists and writers whose work I discuss in the paper were present at the conference, sitting in the front row of the audience when I delivered my paper. Furthermore, the material I discuss is rather sensitive and potentially controversial, as the title of the paper – ‘The Turd That Won’t Flush: The Comedy of Jewish Self-Hatred in the Work of Corinne Pearlman, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Miss Lasko-Gross and Ariel Schrag’ – indicates. My nerves were not helped by the fact that by the time I finally got up to speak it was nearly 6pm and we had heard from more than twenty speakers – including many of the artists whose work is featured in the ‘Graphic Details’ exhibition – since the start of the symposium at 9.30am.

In the event, the audience – made up of academics, members of the general public and a number of graphic novelists and cartoonists – demonstrated admirable powers of concentration and undiminished enthusiasm, giving my paper and the panel of which I was a part their full attention and warm applause. Overall, the symposium was an extraordinary experience: it was a privilege to be able to hear some of the artists who had inspired me to write about this growing field talk about their work with such insight, wit and humility. I left JW3 exhausted but exhilarated and with the strong feeling that my first comics conference won’t be my last.


About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
This entry was posted in Department of English Literature news and events and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.