NeMLA 2021: Superheroes and Graphic Medicine

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

Over the past several years, graphic medicine has become an increasingly popular genre of graphic narrative. Loosely defined as the intersection between medicine and the comic arts, graphic medicine texts typically provide autobiographical accounts of disability, illness, trauma, and medical procedures through a combination of visual and verbal presentation: charts, diagrams, x-rays, doctor’s reports, patient testimony, and more. This combination of medicine and graphic narrative is a perfect fit.

What if instead of graphic medicine consisting of graphic memoir and autobiography, it was applied to fictional texts or genres like the superhero comic book? What about that time the Fantastic Four shrank themselves to enter the bloodstream of their mailman to save his life? Or when the Justice League shrank themselves into the brain of a child and found an intelligent civilization of cancer cells? What about Wolverine’s Type E blood or the medicinal flowers of Krakoa in the new X-Men comics? How does the fictional cyborg compare to real world prosthetics? How does Dr. Strange (and his patients) represent the medical field?


This panel seeks to expand definitions of graphic medicine by exploring additional genres of comics art and how they present medical issues and the field of medicine in general.


Topics might include:


  1. The presentation of medical media like x-rays, medical diagrams, CAT-scans, etc in the superhero genre
  2. Fictional medical fields (“what exactly are you a doctor of?”)
  3. Visualizations of superhuman medical procedures
  4. Superhuman trauma and body horror medical narratives or visualizations
  5. Superhero hospitals or in the hospital
  6. Super-medicine
  7. Super medical technology
  8. Rehabilitation narratives
  9. Superhero doctors and nurses
  10. Fictional viruses (the Legacy Virus, Y the Last Man, etc)
  11. etc

NeMLA 2021 will be in Philadelphia from March 11th to March 14th, 2021. 

Learn more about NeMLA here:


Submit abstract of 300 words by September 30 directly to the NeMLA website here:


Christopher McGunnigle, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, English Department
Seton Hall University
400 S Orange Ave
South Orange, NJ 07079