The Aesthetics of Trash?

A major academic conference on comics and animation is to take place in Manchester in August, and a call has gone out for papers.

Taking place from 28th – 29th August 2007 the event, titled The Aesthetics of Trash?: Reassessing Animation and the Comic – An International Conference will take place at the Manchester Metropolitan University and the deadline for submitting abstracts is 25th June 2007.

Arranged by the University’s Media Studies department, this is an interdisciplinary conference which organising joint chairs: Dr David Huxley and Dr Joan Ormrod hope will address issues surrounding the achievements, cultural status and thematic concerns of animation and comics.

David Huxley is Programme Leader for Manchester University’s BA (Hons) Film and Media Studies course. His subject specialisms are Cartoons and the Comic Strip, Censorship, Hollywood Film and Animation and Fashion Theory, and his current research interests include the representation of 19th century American historical figures in 20th century film and comic strips.

Joan Ormrod lectures on the History of Film and Media Studies degree in the School of the History of Art and Design and is currently researching a PhD in British surfing between 1966-1980. Her main research interests are subcultures and the ways in which subcultural audiences consume mass media texts, including the cultural construction of gender, particularly masculinity, in popular culture and the history of comic books.

(So yes, she’s researching the lifestyles of comics fans. Best of luck with that!)

Until comparatively recently, feel the organisers, the fields of animation and comics have received little serious critical attention in the English speaking world. Both have been regarded as second class media which were below critical radar. Since the 1980s, writings and research on animation (Donald Crafton, John Canemaker, Giannalberto Bendazzi, Paul Wells) and the comic (Martin “Haunt of Fears” Barker, Roger Sabin, Paul Gravett) have begun to recuperate the reputation of these media, both through a thorough examination of their history, and a critical assessment of their aesthetic and cultural value.

The organisers feel there is still a vast amount of work to be done in these areas (and also on the relationship between both media and the live action film). This two day conference will bring together current research in these areas and indicate directions that future research might take.

Papers are invited on a wide range of topics, including:

• Comics/animation & Genre
• The Language of Comics
• How has new media affected the comic?
• What has been the influence of Japan on Western comics and/or animation?
• What is the future of animation?
• Comics fans
• Comics/animation and gender issues
• American Animation Studios
• The Animator as Auteur
• Animation & the Net
• Has the superhero comic been superseded by the superhero film?
• Comics & New Media
• Comics/animation and censorship
• Film Adaptations
• Animation: art versus industry
• How does the construction of the cartoon star relate to live action stardom?
• Experimental Animation
• The Comic Strip
• Underground and Alternative comics
• Comics/animation and nationalism/nationality

Papers will be considered on related themes. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by 25th June 2007 to the organising joint chairs: Dr David Huxley ( and Dr Joan
Ormrod (

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