Superheroes and the Immigrant Experience (NeMLA 2019)
The superhero-as-outsider has been a narrative told for decades since Superman’s parents sent him on a rocket from Krypton to Earth. The immigration narrative is closely aligned with extraterrestrial heroes, including refugees such as the Martian Manhunter and Icon. Yet a superhero does not have to be from another planet to experience the process of immigration: in just X-Men, Charles Xavier, Deadpool, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Storm all work outside their nations of birth, and Magneto forms Genosha as an international sanctuary for mutants persecuted by their governments. Recent films such as Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther examine the challenges of being forced out of one’s home and taking on the role of an exile. How has the superhero served as a metaphor for immigration? How have the experiences of immigrant writers, illustrators, and audiences influenced our interpretations of these texts? How have recent works such as Marvel’s Runaways and DC’s Super-Sons depicted experiences of second-generation citizens of extraterrestrial descent such as Karolina Dean and Superman’s son Jon Kent? This session will examine immigration in multiple contexts, including US superheroes migrating to other countries, metaphorical representations of immigrants’ experiences, and how real-life policies and prejudices are addressed in the more fantastical worlds of superheroes.
Please submit a 300-word abstract and brief biographical statement by September 30, 2018 directly through NeMLA's system: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17585
The 50th Annual NeMLA Convention will take place in Washington, DC on March 21-24, 2019.