Panel at the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA) Conference Las Vegas: “City of God, City of Destruction”

Presiding Officer: Olivia Albiero (San Francisco State University) 

This panel invites contributions on comics that depict the many facets of Berlin and portray the metropolis as the backdrop of urban stories. In line with this year’s PAMLA special theme, this panel welcomes inquiry on works that foreground Berlin as the space of beliefs, hopes, doubts, memories, and changes. Papers can focus on a specific theme as well as on the affordances of the comics medium in shaping the urban imagination of Berlin. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, Berlin as the center of: cultural memories (Jason Lutes’s Berlin); urban legends and myths (Reinhard Kleist’s Berliner Mythen); political conflicts and encounters (Susanne Buddenberg and Thomas Henseler’s Berlin: A City Divided); departure and arrival of migrants and refugees (Ali Fitzgerald’s Drawn to Berlin); dark events (Reinhard Kleist and Tobias O. Meissner’s Berlinoir); and social reportages (Ulli Lust’s Fashionvictims, Trendverächter).

Berlin has been featured in innumerable literary, filmic and cultural works and scholars have devoted numerous studies to the significance of Berlin across times and genres. By focusing on the representation of the metropolis in comics and graphic novels, this panel encourages reflections on how social, political, and cultural transformations are portrayed in the hybrid medium of comics. In line with this year’s PAMLA special theme, the panel welcome contributions on works that foreground Berlin as the space of beliefs, hopes, doubts, memories, and changes. A considerable number of comics and graphic novels, produced both in German-speaking cultures and internationally, use Berlin as the backdrop for their stories and this panel aims at bringing together scholars interested in any aspect of the representation of the German metropolis. The study of comics and graphic novels produced within German-speaking cultures has received increasing attention both at the level of scholarship and pedagogical implementation in college classrooms. Responding to this growing interest in German studies and with the intention of expanding the conversation about German comics and graphic novels at PAMLA, this special session proposes an interdisciplinary approach by bridging German studies, comics studies, and allowing presenters from different fields to approach the topic from a variety of perspectives.