Transitions Comica symposium

This post was contributed by Tony Venezia, a PhD student in Birkbeck’s Department of English and Humanities.

This Saturday (November 3) saw the return of the Transitions Comica symposium to Birkbeck.  This is the third time the college has hosted the symposium, currently the only regular academic comics conference in London.  The event always attracts a broad audience of students, teachers, artists, and people just interested in coming along. 

Transitions has always been supported by the generosity of the School of Arts, and this year was co-sponsored by the Film Department at the University of East Anglia.  In addition, the conference is promoted as part of Comica, the annual international London-wide comics festival organised by journalist/broadcaster Paul Gravett.  Over eighty people – delegates and speakers – registered, with attendees coming from all over the UK, as well as Israel and Italy.  One enterprising speaker, undeterred by Hurricane Sandy, even managed to make the trip from New York to deliver a paper.

The symposium opened with a fascinating joint keynote address from Dr. Chris Murray (Dundee) and Dr. Julia Round (Bournemouth), the general editors of the academic journal Studies in Comics.  Once again, Dr. Roger Sabin (University of the Arts, London) acted as respondent to the papers.  The range of papers is a testament to the multi-disciplinary appeal of the comics form.  Speakers came from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, including; English Literature, Media and Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Social Science, Chemistry, Education, Cultural Geography, Modern Languages, Law, and Japanese Studies.  The day concluded with a discursive roundtable discussion on the future for comics studies to which the author gladly contributed.  Some delegates made their way to Foyles for a special one off event with American cartoonist Robert Crumb in the evening.

The event has already generated online reviews and there is a Storify archive.

Given the undoubted continuing success of Transitions, it is hoped that the event will continue to be hosted at Birkbeck.

Special thanks should go to this year’s organisers: Ed Clough (UEA), Hallvard Haug (Birkbeck), and Nina Mickwitz (UEA) for all their hard work.


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