Call For Papers: Graphic Justice at Lancaster University

2000AD 1961 - Bisley Variant

Graphic Justice is a stream that’s part of a larger academic conference, the Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference 2016 taking place at Lancaster University from Tuesday 5th – Thursday 7th April 2016.

Convened by Thomas Giddens, from St Mary’s Univeristy in London, the Graphic Justice stream invites submissions exploring the crossover between law and justice and comics of all kinds.

A growing area of research, comics and graphic fiction are of huge significance to law, justice and legal studies. On the level of production, comics are a complex art-form, with multiple creators working in individual, group, commercial and industrial contexts, raising questions of ownership and exploitation. On the level of culture, comics are historically embroiled in debates of free speech whilst today inspire countless pop culture adaptations to television and cinema, and can be seen to reflect and shape popular visions of justice, morality and law.

On the level of content, from mainstream superhero narratives tackling overt issues of justice, governance and authority, to countless themes related to morality, justice and humanity in stories beyond the mainstream, comics are replete with legal material – the sort of things 2000AD’s “Judge Dredd” has tackled since 1977, in fact!

On the level of form, the comics medium’s unique and restless blending of different media and types of representation (text, image, visuality, aesthetics, inter alia) radically opens up discourse beyond the confines of the word, enabling greater critical engagement amidst our increasingly visual age.

In short, comics bring rich cultural, practical and aesthetic contexts and mediations to long-standing and emerging legal problems and settings. Broad questions framing this ‘graphic justice’ intersection might include:

  • What are the relationships between comics and law—culturally, socially, theoretically, jurisprudentially…?
  • How can we use comics in law—in practice, education, theory, research…?
  • Can we consider comics as an object of legal regulation in their own right—raising issues of definition, ownership, consumption, value…?

The crossover between law and comics is an expansive and open one. The examples above are merely indicative of possible issues and questions; submissions are welcome for papers that traverse any potential intersection between law and comics—both broadly defined.

Abstracts may only be submitted via the Easy Chair Platform (account required. They must be no longer than 300 words and should include your title, name and institutional affiliation and your email address for correspondence.

Thomas Giddens

Thomas Giddens

Following his LLB Law (Aberystwyth) and his MSc Criminology with Forensic Psychology (Middlesex), Thomas Giddens completed his PhD on ‘Comics, Crime, and the Moral Self’ at the University of Exeter in 2012. This thesis focused on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel Watchmen, and explored issues around how we think about people as responsible beings.

Thom has since published aspects of his work and presented papers at a number of conferences, and is founder of the Graphic Justice Research Alliance, a research initiative aimed at bringing academics, practitioners, artists, and other interested parties from across the globe together, and to promote collaboration and development of work exploring the intersections of comics with the concerns of law and justice.


• The deadline for submissions is Monday 18th January 2016. Full details here on the Lancaster University web site

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