Comics and Society

Nordic Summer University Ad Hoc Symposium
16–17 March 2018, University of Turku

Organized by Nordic Summer University, Departments of Comparative Literature &
Media Studies at University of Turku, and Turku City Library

We invite scholars, students, artists, and other professionals working with comics to take part in our symposium Comics & Society, developed within the Nordic and Baltic framework of Nordic Summer University. The aim of this seminar is to bring together comics scholars and artists from the Nordic countries and the Baltic region to establish interdisciplinary cooperation. Comics research has yet to claim its place at our universities and this symposium aims to create a platform for scholars from our region to discuss the topical questions of the field. Furthermore, we hope to blur the borders between academic research and artistic (and other) practises by encouraging to open-minded and experimental collaboration. The symposium’s program includes a keynote lecture given by Rebecca Scherr (University of Oslo) and a panel discussion featuring local comic artists.

From the first newspaper strips of the late 19th century to the moral panics of the 1950’s comics have always been a medium of societal commentary but also an object of public anxiety. Today comics are increasingly recognised as art and as as significant carriers of meaning in popular culture in the Nordic and Baltic countries, but a few decades ago they were still considered to be degenerative to our societies. The various relations between comics and society are in the focus of this symposium. We aim to investigate how comics take part in making sense of societies and societal changes, how they are linked to the economical processes of production and consumption but also what their status is in today’s Nordic and Baltic region.

Themes we hope to discuss during the symposium are (but not limited to):

  • Comics as/in History: How can past events and historical processes be explored through the multimodal form of comics? How are the history of the medium and the histories of our societies connected?
  • Comics and Gender: What kind of strategies do comics offer for exploring social, political, and affective aspects of gender? What kind of role does gender play in today’s comics cultures?
  • Comics Production, Consumption and Economy: What kind of economical processes of production and consumption are comics linked to?
  • Comics and Politics: In what ways can comics be a part of politics/be political? What are the strategies used in comics to comment/take part in politics?
  • Comics and Stereotypes: How are different stereotypes used in comics? Can the use of stereotypes work as a way to understand different societies, minorities etc?

How to participate

We are mainly looking for academic presentations of 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. However, it is also possible to present in some other format if it suits you better.

To submit a proposal please send via email to the coordinators

Anna Vuorinne,
Laura Antola,

  1.  A written proposal (300 words) with a title (and descriptive subtitle)
  2.  A short bio (200 words)

If you would like to attend the symposium without presenting, please email a short bio.

The deadline to submit proposals is November 15, 2017. Notifications of accepted presentations will be sent before the preliminary program is announced on December 15, 2017 on

Registration and fee

Students, freelancers, unemployed: 30€
Those associated with institutions:  45€

This cost includes meals (lunches, coffee breaks, and conference dinner) as well as conference materials.

Arrival: 16.3.2018
Departure: 17.3.2018

The Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a Nordic network for research and interdisciplinary studies.

NSU is a nomadic, academic institution, which organises workshop-seminars across disciplinary and national borders. Since it was established in 1950, Nordic Summer University has organised forums for cultural and intellectual debate in the Nordic and Baltic region, involving students, academics, politicians, and intellectuals from this region and beyond.

Decisions about the content and the organisational form of the NSU lay with its participants. The backbone of the activities in the NSU consists of its thematic study circles. In the study circles researchers, students and professionals from different backgrounds collaborate in scholarly investigations distributed regularly in summer and winter symposia during a three-year period.

For more information