CfP: The Politics of Non-Hegemonic Superheroism

Editors: Dr. Rafael Ponce-Cordero, Keene State College, Dr. Derek McGrath, Independent Scholar
Working Title: "Can the Subaltern Be a Superhero? The Politics of Non-Hegemonic Superheroism"
Stichtag: 30.05.2016

Subject Fields:
Popular Culture Studies, Race Studies, Sexuality Studies, Women’s & Gender History / Studies, Film and Film History

Superheroes are, by definition, guardians of law and order, i.e. of the status quo. Not coincidentally, the majority of them—and certainly the most famous ones—are male, straight, and white. Yet there are costumed crime-fighters who do not conform to that tacit rule and serve, in this sense, as examples of what we can call alternative superheroism. Those are the ones this collection of essays will examine.

What happens when the superhero is not male, heterosexual, white, and/or American? How do female, gay, or minority characters reconcile their “otherness” with their roles as guardians of the status quo? Are costumed crime-fighters from the Global South different from their First World counterparts? Can you get truth and justice, without the American way? How does the non-hegemonic imagination handle an imaginary that is hegemonic almost by nature? In short, can the subaltern be a superhero?

In a world where the figure of the superhero is such a pervasive staple of popular culture and enjoys such a degree of commercial success in comic books, movies, and other media both inside and outside the US, it is important to understand the politics involved and explore the possibility of non-hegemonic and even anti-hegemonic agency contained within a seemingly all-hegemonic construct.

Topics fitting this call for papers may include, but are not limited to, the following general themes:

  • Female superheroes
  • LGBTQ superheroes
  • Minority superheroes in the US and elsewhere
  • Superheroes from the Global South

Send 300-word abstracts and short bios by May 30, 2016, to Rafael Ponce-Cordero at with subject line “CFP – Can the Subaltern Be a Superhero?”

Abstracts should include the title, the author(s) name and institutional affiliation, and contact details. They shall clearly state the aims of the paper, the methodology used, the theoretical orientation including literature, and the main conclusions. The editors will ask the authors of selected proposals to submit their final articles (length: 6,000 to 8,000 words) no later than October 1, 2016.

Abstracts by May 30th
Decision by June 15th
Papers by October 1st

Contact Info:
Dr. Rafael Ponce-Cordero, Keene State College

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