Love and Violence: Action Heroes

full name / name of organization: 
Cynthia Miller/Film & HIstory
contact email: 

Call for Papers
"Love and Violence: Action Heroes"
2010 Film & History Conference: Representations of Love in Film and Television
November 11-14, 2010
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
Second Round Deadline: November 1, 2009

AREA: Love and Violence: Action Heroes

Though often bullied into a narrative corner, love remains a powerful motivator in the action genre. Despite an atmosphere of danger, brutality, and death, heroes bend to moments of tender passions, consuming jealousy, blind devotion, and sexual chemistry. From an estranged husband's love in Die Hard and a dueling courtship in Batman Returns to Aragon's devotion to Arwen in Lord of the Rings and the longing between X-Men's Wolverine and Jean Grey, love is a complex interjection—sometimes a disruption—in a genre that typically rewards stoicism and aggression.

This area welcomes papers exploring the many representations of love and romance in the action genre, particularly focusing on action heroes. How does love—familial or romantic—drive the storyline? Does it complicate or complement? How does love make an action hero accessible, realistic, or human? Conversely, how is love used to weaken a hero, color his or her judgment, or bring about a downfall? How does femininity/masculinity affect the expression of sentiment? How do generic expectations dilute or bastardize love, especially when paired with forms of sexual violence (rape, masochism, sadism) or racism/sexism? What is the feminizing effect of love on heroes? How are threats of non-normative sexuality or love integrated or repressed? What sacrifices, consequences, or rewards are given in the name of love?

Possibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Push-Pull Lovers: The Matrix; Mr. and Mrs. Smith; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Batman Returns
• Mutant Love: Underworld; X-men; Fantastic 4; Heroes; Watchmen
• Love and Family: Die Hard; Lethal Weapon; Kill Bill; The Long Kiss Goodnight; The Punisher; Terminator; The Incredibles, Star Wars; Gladiator
• For the Love of a Good Woman (or Man): Spiderman, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight
• Other considerations: sex scenes; absence, denial, or repression of love; homosocial partnerships; love as expression of cultural, social, or political setting

Please send your 250-word proposal to

Jennie M. Morton, Area Chair
English Department
University of Northern Iowa / Baker 42
Cedar Falls, IA 50614
Email: (email submissions preferred)

Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (