8-9 December 2016
Keynote Speaker: Professor Henry Jenkins – University of Southern California
It is hard to imagine a time when superheroes have been more pervasive in popular culture. As one of our most beloved folkloric traditions these costume-clad adventurers have become a means to negotiate and articulate identities in response to fictional heroes. Superhero identities range from those that symbolise a nation, to web communities that use cosplay to challenge gender roles, and the people of a city coming together under the banner of a caped crusader. This symposium will examine the many intersections between superheroes and identity. From big screen heroes to lesser-known comic book vigilantes and real-life costumed heroes, the symposium will include papers that consider superheroes across all eras and media platforms
We are inviting submissions for individual research papers of 20 minutes as well as pre-formed panels. Proposal topics might include, but are not limited to, the following areas:
One of the central tenets of the superhero story is the transition of unassuming civilians into costume-clad heroes. This narrative is not confined to the comic book page as the people of San Francisco demonstrated when they came together to realise the adventures of Batkid. Proposals are invited that consider how superheroes have become icons of activism and community engagement.
National and Regional Identities
Comic books are often considered an American form, and the medium’s most popular character, the superhero, did much to affirm that link with dozens of star-spangled heroes created during the industry’s Golden Age. However, the superhero has been reimagined in a range of contexts to respond to local cultures, politics, and traditions. Papers that consider how superheroes engage with national and regional identities are welcome.
The masquerade and imaginative possibilities of superheroes, coupled with their high concept settings, have allowed these characters to engage with issues and interests that were often difficult to tackle in more “grounded” stories. Papers that consider how superheroes address topics such as gender, sexuality, and ethnicity are invited.
Audiences, Fans, and Superheroes
Whether it is t-shirts adorned with a familiar logo or convention cosplay and fan fiction, superheroes compel participation. We encourage papers that examine the range of this engagement from casual movie audiences to avid consumers.
The supervillain is often understood as the hero’s dark double. This symposium welcomes papers that consider the identities of the supervillains, and their relationship to the above topics.
The Superhero Identities symposium is organised by the Superheroes & Me research team – Angela Ndalianis (University of Melbourne), Liam Burke (Swinburne University of Technology), Elizabeth MacFarlane (University of Melbourne), Wendy Haslem (University of Melbourne), and Ian Gordon (National University of Singapore) – and supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
Proposals of 250-300 words for individual presentations or full panels, as well as any queries, should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 24, 2016, along with a 150-word bio.