Comics Picturing Girlhood Symposium

Comics have long relied on reinforcing reader identity formation whether through interest, age group or hobbies. Constructed and largely mythical notions of gendered readership consequently became key aspects of many of these comics. As gendered products, comics have constructed feminine role models and identities to which girls have replied with both rebellion and conformity. The aim of this symposium is to inspire and promote discourse around comparative constructions of girlhood. This exploration will consider relationships between and influences on European girls’ comics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Due to the pandemic of covid-19, this conference will take place online. To attend the talks, register here.


Download the full programme in PDF.

If you wish to read the abstracts and want to get to know our participants better, download the AbstractBook.


Thursday 22 April

11 – 12:30 Welcome – Dona Pursall & Eva Van de Wiele (Ghent University)
Keynote – Mel Gibson (Northumbria University Newcastle)
Professional Identity, Girlhood Comics, Affection, Nostalgia and Embarrassment + Q&ALearn about her publications and trainings on her website.
13:30 – 14:30 Panel 1 – Disability in Girl Comics (Chair: John Miers)
Charlotte J. Fabricius (University of Southern Denmark)
Beyond the WASP: Disability, Community, and Girl Power in The Unstoppable Wasp
JoAnn Purcell (York University and Seneca College)
What Does a Girl with an Intellectual Disability Really Want?
15 – 16:30 Panel 2 – Beyond Fact and Fiction (Chair: Michel De Dobbeleer)
María Porras Sánchez (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
‘A harrowing, transient girlhood’: Representations of Refugee Girls in the Context of European Migrant Crisis
Giorgio Busi Rizzi (Ghent University)
Green Apples Sometimes Fall Far from the Tree: The Evolution of Valentina Mela Verde from the Pedagogy of Girlhood to Engaged Realism
Özlem Alioğlu Türker (Ankara University)
Sıdıka Behind the Window and the Women’s Activism in Turkey
17 – 18:30 Round table
Monalesia Earle (independent scholar) and Joe Sutliff Sanders (Cambridge University) discuss Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson, Jeg rømmer by Mari Kanstad Johnsen, Sardine by Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar
19 – 20:30 Panel 3 – Beyond Judgement (Chair: Jessica Burton)
Alison Halsall (York University Toronto)
‘Friendship to the max!’: The Lumberjanes’ Collectivist and Feminist Revision of the Scouting Story
Joan Ormrod (Manchester Metropolitan University)
‘It’s fun-it’s new and it’s all for YOU’: Modernity and the Active Female Body in Mirabelle 1964-1967
Marine Berthiot (University of Edinburgh)
Developing A Style of One’s Own in Mophead, a Graphic Novel by Selina Tusitala Marsh (2019)
Interview with Dr. Jesus Jiménez Varea, Vice Chair of theiCOn-MICS Action -Investigation on Comics and Graphic Novels in the Iberian Cultural Area (CA19119) and on girls in comics

-> Watch it here.

Book presentation and interview – Valentine Gallardo & Mathilde Van Gheluwe: Pendant que le loup n’y est pas


Friday 23 April


9:30 – 11 Panel 4 – A Space for Girls’ (Comics) (Chair: Gert Meesters)
Sylvain Lesage (Université de Lille)
Girls’ Comics, The Lost Continent of the Ninth Art?

Aswathy Senan (The Research Collective Delhi)
The Childhood of Malayalis: The (Im)possibilities of Comic Imagination

11:15 – 12:15

Panel 5 – Feminists in Training (Chair: Ivan Pintor Iranzo)

Nicoletta Mandolini (Universidade do Minho)
Re-Appropriating Abjection. Ana Caspão’s Fundo do nada (2017) as a Feminist and Macabre Coming of Age

Amanda Potter (Open University)

Girlhood in training: Learning to become a warrior and a woman in The Legend of Wonder Woman (2015-16) Age of Conan: Valeria (2019) and A Man Among Ye(2020)

 14 – 15

Keynote 2 – Julia Round (Bournemouth University)

‘There’s no room for demons when you’re self-possessed’: Supernatural Possession in Spellbound and Misty + Q&A

Find out more about Julia Round on her website.

15:30 – 16:30 Panel 6 – Beyond Bodies (Chair: Eszter Szép)
Martha Newbigging (Seneca College Toronto)
Drawing Comics: A Methodology to Materialize Queerness Within Childhood
Barbara Postema (Massey University New Zealand)
‘There are a lot of ways to be marked’: Suffering Bodies in Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
17 – 18 Panel 7 – Beyond Reading (Chair: Maaheen Ahmed)
Mel Loucks (New Mexico Military Institute)
Out of the Mouths of Babes: Jackie Ormes and the Children of the Civil Rights Movement
Sébastien Conard (KASK Ghent School of Arts and LUCA Brussels)
Death and the Maiden: Charlotte Salomon in Red and Yellow Dots


Interesting links and sources gathered during the conference

Our Padlet is our collective notebook for interesting links and sources. We will use this collaborative tool throughout the symposium. Feel free to add!