The Superhero Project: 6 th Global Meeting
Hotel Moers Van Der Valk (Moers, Germany)
September 9-11, 2022
Stichtag: 01.05.2022

The superhero genre has evolved far, far beyond its origins in the late 1930’s within
American comics as disposable entertainment for young children. Eighty‐four years
after the debut of Superman in Action Comics #1, the superhero today represents one
of the dominant discourses of global popular culture, embodied via thousands of
characters worldwide negotiated in and through all types of media.

With the genre’s evolution and diversification having significantly accelerated since the
turn of the millennium, generating a vast diversity of creative expressions, the
superhero discourse has to contend not only with highly different and often conflicting
expectations directing the character’s various portrayals but also stringent demands
regarding their alignment with real world issues. Consequently, this has resulted in an
increasing fragmentation within the genre.

While the superhero genre has negotiated fragmentation throughout its history, the
genre’s current status as a dominant example of global popular culture has
exacerbated these tendencies and processes. This in turn has allowed the discourse to
adapt meaningfully to a globalized postmodern world that is itself characterized by
continuous processes of economic, social, technological, communal as well as
individual fragmentation.

Identity can be seen as a core arena for such fragmentation within the superhero
genre, given the centrifugal tensions between the superhero’s crime‐fighting persona
and their civilian alter‐ego that provide the basis of teeming narratives. Fragmentation
provides the basis – and can be employed as an analytical framework for – the
investigation of individual identities such as Batman and The Joker in White Knight
(2017‐18) or the array of intertextual versions of a single character, as seen in the
Spider‐Man series Spider‐Geddon (2018). Yet, this can also extend into political and
communal identities (Captain America: Civil War), gender identities (Loki, Captain
Marvel), race and ethnicity (the Miles Morales incarnation of Spider‐Man, Falcon),
Capitalism and Technocracy (Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark) and family (Superman,
Black Widow).

Fragmentation is also variously connected to the superhero genre’s formidable
transmedial presence. Serialised superhero narratives now occupy such a wide array
of media platforms, the characters and story worlds are spread far and wide
intertextually, leading to a mosaic presence and distinct facets via medium, be it
comics, video games, social media etc. The recent cinematic release of Spider‐Man: No

Way Home and forthcoming releases of The Flash and Dr Strange In The Multiverse of
Madness indicate a rise in combining fragmented story worlds.
Fragmentation is also a valuable concept to be used as a lens in fan studies or a
production and marketing approach for superhero texts of all kinds (film, TV,
merchandise) by way of, for example, looking at activities on different social media
platforms, analyzing differing marketing strategies and so forth.

For its sixth edition, The Superhero Project invites inter‐disciplinary discussion on the
theme of “The Fragmented Superhero”. From a broad understanding of the concept
of fragmentation, indicative themes for discussion in the context of the superhero
discourse across all media and prior decades may include but are not limited to:

∙ Processes and effects of fragmentation in/and Identity
∙ Disguise as a means and an expression of fragmentation
∙ Fragmentation in the Context of Sexuality, Gender and Ethnicity
∙ Fragmentation and Adaptation
∙ Fragmentation as / and Deconstruction
∙ Fragmentation and Globalisation
∙ Patriotism
∙ Fragmentation and Postmodernity
∙ Social Responsibility / Cultural Diagnosis through Processes of Fragmentation (individual, social, genre, etc.)
∙ Processes and effects of fragmentation in the context of Diversity and Inclusion
∙ Fragmentation and / in Fan Cultures and Audiences / Marketing
∙ Fragmentation in / through Cross‐ and Transmedia
∙ Fragmentation and Mythology
∙ Fragmentation via Intertextuality

What to Send:
300 word abstracts should be submitted by May 1st, 2022 to the following e‐mail
addresses: torsten.caeners@uni‐
E‐mails should be entitled: SUPER VI Abstract Submission.

Abstracts should be in MS Word formats with the following information and in this
order: a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email
address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.

We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive
a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal. If this
is the case, please do resend. We believe it is a mark of personal courtesy and
professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full
duration of The Superhero Project: 6th Global Meeting. If you have any questions, the
Organising Chairs will be only to happy to assist.

Organising Chairs:
Torsten Caeners (University of Duisburg‐Essen): torsten.caeners@uni‐
Danny Graydon (University of Hertfordshire):
Project Homepage: https://www.superheroproject.n