‘Comics & Medicine: The Sequential Art of Illness’: Conference, Chicago, 9-11 June 2011

This second international interdisciplinary conference* aims explore the past, present, and possible future of comics in the context of the healthcare experience.  Programs in medical humanities have long touted the benefits of reading literature and studying visual art in the medical setting, but the use of comics in healthcare practice and education is relatively new.  The melding of text and image has much to offer all members of the healthcare team, including patients and families.  As such, a subgenre of graphic narrative known as graphic medicine is emerging as a field of interest to both scholars and creators of comics.

We are pleased to confirm two important keynote speakers: David Small, author of ‘Stitches’ and Phoebe Gloeckner, author of ‘A Child’s Life’

We invite proposals for scholarly papers (15 minutes), poster presentations, and panel discussions (60 minutes), focused on medicine and comics in any form (e.g., graphic novels, comic strips, graphic pathographies, manga, and/or web comics) on the following—and related—topics:

  • graphic pathographies of illness and disability
  • the use of comics in medical education
  • the use of comics in patient care
  • the interface of graphic medicine and other visual arts in popular
  • culture
  • ethical implications for using comics to educate the public
  • ethical implications of patient representation in comics by
  • healthcare providers
  • trends in international use of comics in healthcare settings
  • the role of comics in provider/patient communication
  • comics as a virtual support group for patients and caregivers
  • the use of comics in bioethics discussions and education

We also welcome workshops (120 minutes) by creators of comics on the process, rationale, methods, and general theories behind the use of comics to explore medical themes. These are intended to be “hands-on” interactive workshops for participants who wish to obtain particular skills with regard to the creation or teaching about comics in the medical context.

We envision this gathering as a collaboration among humanities scholars, comics scholars, comics creators, healthcare professionals, and comics enthusiasts.

300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday, 28 February 2011 to submissions@graphicmedicine.org. Proposals may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order: author(s), affiliation, email address, title of abstract, body of abstract.  Please identify your presentation preference: 1) oral presentation; 2) poster presentation; 3) panel discussion; or 4) workshop. While we cannot guarantee that presenters will receive their first choice, we will attempt to honor people’s preferences, and will acknowledge the receipt of all proposals submitted. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed by an interdisciplinary selection committee. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be completed by 14 March 2011.

This event is co-sponsored by the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine, and the Science, Technology and Society Program of Penn State University, and is supported by a grant from the Charles Schulz Foundation.

*Information about the 2010 conference, “Comics and Medicine: Medical

Narrative in Graphic Novels,” in London, England can be found at


Dr Ian Williams

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