Comics Studies Society 2018 Prizes – Nominations Open

CSSJust about a year ago, the Comics Studies Society, itself just founded in 2014, announced the launch of one of its major projects – four annual prizes to recognize “outstanding contributions to the study of comic art” in the form of monographs, journal articles and chapters in edited collections, “public scholarship” (i.e., contributions to non-academic publications), and conference presentations by graduate students. Nominations for the prizes were accepted from both peers/readers, and from authors themselves, and I for my part certainly welcomed the opportunity to nominate several papers on manga published in 2017 that I felt would deserve the recognition.

The 2018 winners were announced in May. Neither the Charles Hatfield Book Prize nor the Comics Studies Society Article Prize went to publications on Japanese comics, but the award committee announced that in addition to the main Award for Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation, it would also recognize three authors with honorable mentions – one of the three being leading manga scholar Andrea Horbinski, for the paper “Something Postmodern Going On: The Queering of the Manga Sphere in the 1970s”, presented at On Belonging: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in Japan.

And now, the nomination period for this year’s prizes – for materials published in 2018 – is officially open – to run until March 1. Each award winner will receive a $300 cash award, a plaque, and an invitation to present on their work at the Society’s annual conference.

The basic guidelines for the nominated works is that they must be:

“historical, biographical, critical, analytical, pedagogical, and/or bibliographical in focus…and draw on original research, acknowledge and advance existing scholarship where relevant, and include appropriate documentation.”

The full rules, and the instructions for submitting nominations are available on the CSS website. As per the instructions for the Article Prize, it is meant to recognize publications that “greatly add to our understanding of comic art and/or its historical, cultural, critical, or theoretical contexts”, and once again, I can easily think of at least 3 articles on manga published in 2018 that I think should be considered. So, I will be submitting these nominations – and if you know of one or more that you think is worthy of this kind of award, I urge to you nominate it too! What’s the worst thing that can happen – you will send through your nomination, and never hear anything about it ever again? And the best – the author will receive recognition for their work, and $300. Everybody wins!

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Manga at the Comics Studies Society 1st Annual Conference

CSSRegardless of how one thinks about the idea of “manga studies” specifically, the idea of “comics studies” in general as an established academic field is long past being in any way controversial. The field is now covered by major commercial and academic presses – including several with dedicated series such as Bloomsbury Comics Studies, Comics Culture (Rutgers University Press), Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic NovelsStudies in Comics and Cartoons (The Ohio State University Press), and World Comics and Graphic Nonfiction (University of Texas Press), as well as number of journals, and regular academic conferences, and several colleges around the U.S. are now offering formal comics studies programs.
Another major feature that characterizes an established academic field is a defined community of scholars who are actually working in it, organized formally in some way. The Comics Studies Society, first organized in 2014, is this community for the field of comics studies broadly defined – as being “open to all who share the goals of promoting the critical study of comics, improving comics teaching, and engaging in open and ongoing conversations about the comics world”, with “comics studies” meaning “the study and critical analysis of comics strips; comic books, papers, and magazines; albums, graphic novels, and other graphic books; webcomics and other electronic formats; single-panel cartoons, including editorial and gag cartoons; caricature; animation; and other related forms and traditions.” Since its launch, the Society has been promoting resources in and for comics studies through its website, developing an annual award program for outstanding new scholarship on comics, and began publication of another new academic journal in the field. But its major area of activity has been the launch of an annual academic conference.

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Comics Studies Society – 2017 Prizes

CSSOne of the particular features of working in the academic environment is that individual scholars’ contributions to their fields’ bodies of knowledge are often recognized directly via various kinds of “best publication” awards – usually a combination of an actual cash award, of course recognition, and, perhaps most importantly, a line on the CV!

This practice is common across disciplines and subject areas. In 2011, for example, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations presented its Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize – “$1,000…awarded annually to the author of a distinguished article appearing in a scholarly journal or edited book, on any topic in United States foreign relations”, to Andrew McKevitt, for his article “You are not alone!”: Anime and the globalizing of America. Continue reading