Being Supermen: Representations of Masculinity in Superhero Comics, Television, and Films

deadline for submissions: 
July 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Rosalind Sibielski
contact email: 

In “The Effects of Superhero Sagas on Our Gendered Selves,” Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz and Hillary Pennell suggest that superheroes are most often represented across U.S. popular culture texts as “super gendered" in ways that impact how we as a culture “construct gender-related identities, attitudes, and beliefs” by affirming gender norms. While there has been much scholarly analysis of gender identity, presentation, and performance in relation to female superheroes, less critical attention has been paid to examining the cultural function of male superheroes in either affirming or challenging hegemonic masculinity.

This edited collection seeks to bring together contributions that consider the ways in which representations of male superheroes in comics, television, and film provide us with models for what it is and what it means to be a man within U.S. culture. We are specifically interested in analyses of male-identified characters, either cis-gender or transgender. We are also interested in essays that examine the following in relation to those characters:

  • performances of masculinity in relation to both heroes and villains in superhero texts
  • changing conceptions of hegemonic masculinity over time, particularly in relation to a single character or a single text/franchise
  • representations that question hegemonic masculinity and/or provide alternative constructions of masculinity
  • texts or storylines that address toxic masculinity in relation to the superhero
  • intersections between race and gender in the performance of masculinity
  • intersections between gender and sexuality in the performance of masculinity
  • intersections between gender and disability in the performance of masculinity
  • examinations of embodied identity and the ways in which the bodies of superheroes are both “super gendered” and conform to gendered body ideals

We will also consider submissions that examine gender fluid or non-binary characters and that offer models of gender outside the masculine/feminine gender binary

We welcome submissions from across a variety of disciplines including (but not limited to) comics studies, media studies, gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, sociology, and anthropology. We also welcome submissions that examine texts primarily aimed at younger audiences (i.e. cartoons, animated films), as well as those aimed at adult audiences.

Submissions should be 7500-8000 words including the bibliography and any end notes. Submissions should follow Chicago Style Notes-Bibliography formatting for citations. Submissions should also include a 100-150 word abstract.

In order to be considered for inclusion in this edited collection, completed submissions must be emailed as attachments (either word or PDF files) to the editors, Rosalind Sibielski (rsibielski@ric.edu) AND Quincy Thomas (qwindin@gmail.com), by July 1, 2019.

Inquiries should be directed to Rosalind Sibielski at rsibielski@ric.edu