CFP: The "Other" in Superhero Comic Books (4/30/06; MWPCA/MWACA, 10/27/06-10/29/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Wandtke, Terrence

CALL FOR PAPERS (Please circulate)


Panel for the 2006 Midwest Popular Culture Association / Midwest
American Culture Association Conference in Indianapolis, IN, October


Panel Title: "The 'Other' in Superhero Comic Books"


Deadline for submissions: April 30, 2006


Many scholars have highlighted the way superheroes (as trademarked
commodities) are connected to prevalent attitudes of mainstream
culture--think of Superman and Batman selling war bonds during the
1940's. However, the hero has always been a sort of "other," above and
outside the confines of society per se. Despite the superhero's
existence as a trademarked commodity, the superhero is not an exception
to this rule--think of Superman as an alien, Batman as a vigilante, and
Wonder Woman as a woman in a man's world. And the "otherness" of the
superhero has only been accentuated in a post X-Men and Watchmen era
(with superheroes often rejected by society). With these ideas and
others in play, this panel will explore otherness in superhero comic


Possible topics include (but are not limited to) the following:

--The secret identity as outgrowth of Victorian split mind and the
Freudian consciousness/unconsciousness; the superhero estranged from him
or herself; superheroism as insanity

--The male orientation of superhero comic book readership as a
controlling force; the way that dominant orientation has been supported
or subverted

--The Jewish background of superhero creators and the ways in which
their cultural heritage was encoded or effaced

--The impact of Fredric Wertham's interpretation of superhero's place as
other and the attempts to bring the superhero into mainstream, from the
self-regulation of the comics code to parodies of superheroes

--The Thing, the Hulk, and Spiderman as monstrous, cultural outsiders
(also seen in more contemporary creations such as Concrete and Hellboy)

--The mutanthood of the X-Men as a flexible metaphor for racial and
sexual otherness

--Handicaps as both superpowers and metaphors for superpower with
Professor Xavier and Daredevil

--The racial other represented in the post Civil Rights Era with black
superheroes such as the Falcon and the Black Panther

--An(other) political discourse seen in works like the Dennis O'Neil and
Neal Adams Green Arrow and Green Lantern and Alan Moore's V for Vendetta

--Supermen as god-like others ranging from savior stories in Alan
Moore's Miracleman and "the death of Superman" series to the alternative
mythologies of Jack Kirby's New Gods and Neil Gaiman's Sandman

--Supermen as fascist rulers and villains with the ominous tones of
Warren Ellis' The Authority and Matt Wagner's Grendel

--Revisionist takes on racial and sexual otherness such as Brian Michael
Bendis' Luke Cage and Rick Veitch's Brat Pack


Please submit a 300-word proposal to Terrence Wandtke at You may include the proposal within the
body of the e-mail or attach as a Word document. You may also mail a
hard copy to Terrence Wandtke; Division of Communication Arts; Judson
College; 1151 North State Street; Elgin, IL 60123-1498. Your e-mail or
hard copy proposal must be received by April 30, 2006. Please include
your affiliation and contact information.


Dr. Terrence Wandtke

20th Century Literature, Film, and Popular Culture

Judson College

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Received on Tue Jan 10 2006 - 09:34:02 EST