Superhero Conference 5 Banner

Conference Programme

Friday 10th September 2021

14:00
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Danny Graydon and Torsten Caeners

14:15
SESSION 1: SUPERHERO DYNAMICS
1. Danny Graydon (University of Hertfordshire): “The Son Becomes The Father, And The Father Becomes The Son…”: Parenthood As An Evolution of The Superman Mythology.
2. Sara K. Ellis (Meiji University): From Farm to Tablet: Superman as the Great Provider.
3. Alex Van Ommen (Independent): Captain America as a vessel for American Cultural yearning.

15:45
Coffee Break

16:00
SESSION 2: EXISTENTIAL SUPERHEROES
1. Torsten Caeners (University of Duisburg-Essen): “Is this an old Message?” – Ant-Man’s Ghostly Return and The Marvel Cinematic Universe as a Hauntological Space.
2. Rafael Alves Azevedo (Technical University of Dresden): "In Heaven, there are no pearly gates, but instead revolving doors" Geoff Johns, Death and Resurrection in New Sincerity Comics.
3. Matthias Keidel (Independent): Don't Mess With the Devil! Is there a devil in human form at the Daredevil Netflix series?

18:00
Dinner

Saturday 11th September 2021

08:30
SESSION 3: FORM & FUNCTION
1. Mikayla J. Laird (University of Hertfordshire): “Because He’s My Father, You Idiot”: Batman as Literal and Figurative Father Figure to the Dark Age of Comics.
2. Nicholas T. James (Morehead State University) "Only You Can Save the World! You Must (Not) Read this Comic!" Reader Agency in Narrative Completion in Grant Morrison's Multiversity.
3. Bruno Porto (Tilburg University): The Variant Cover.

10:00
Coffee Break

10:15
SESSION 4: SUPERHEROES & OTHERNESS
1. Martine Klein (University of Duisburg-Essen): Vanya Haargreeves - Negotiating the depiction of bisexuality and supernatural abilities for future superhero representations.
2. Ranthild Salzer (University of Vienna): An early exercise in progressive action? Black Power Masculinity and Marvel Comics' Black Panther.
3. Ashika Paramita (Deakin University): "Make Comics Great Again": Discourse of Otherness in Alt-Hero.

12:00
Lunch

13:00
SESSION 5: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
1. Kristin Aubel (TU Dortmund): With Great Power Comes Social Responsibility: Precarity in Marvel's Spider-Man (2018) and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020).
2. Marco Favaro (University of Bamberg): Dystopic Heroes: Exploring the possibility of heroism in the dystopias, from Alan Moore to WandaVision.
3. Jessica Hoffman (University of Duisburg-Essen): Perfect Imperfect (Anti-) Heroines: Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey.

14:30
Coffee Break

14:45
SESSION 6: DIVERSITY OF HEROISM
1. Caleb Turner (Richmond University): Super White Lies: Power, Privilege, Post-Truth and (Caucasian) Heroism Onscreen.
2. Yago Paris (Eotvos Lorand University): Diversity and the Super heroic Figure: Studying Frozen's Elsa as a Superheroine.
3. Eva M. Thury (Drexel University): Katabasis in The Boys as an expression of the Progressive Age of the Superhero.

16:15
Coffee Break

16:30
SESSION 7: VIOLENCE & PROPAGANDA
1. Rory Bines-Morris (University of Warwick): Military Marvel: Reading Captain Marvel as Propaganda for the US Military.
2. Daniel J. Connell (Independent): "That was diabolical!" - Ultraviolence, Hypermasculinity and Depravity in The Boys.
3. Svenja Kolpack (University of Duisburg-Essen): "There is no Man like me" - Loki as the Embodiment of the Medieval Vice.

18:00
Dinner

Sunday 12th September 2021

8:30
SESSION 8: TEXTUAL MANOEVURES
1. Laura Antola (University of Turku): Marvel Studio's WandaVision as the Ultimate Transmedial Text.
2. Stefanie Dullisch (University of Düsseldorf): Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation from Traditional Genre Conventions.
3. James C. Taylor (University of Warwick): The Strangest Continuity of All: Traversing Timelines in the X-Men Films.

10:00
Coffee Break

10:15
SESSION 9: SUPERHEROES AT WAR
1. Robert Hyland (Queen's University): Big in Japan: Giant Monsters and Cold War Rhetoric in Japanese Superhero text.
2. Alex J. Lee (University of East Anglia) "The heroines came first': DC Bombshells Re-writing an Era.
3. Rabeb Touihri (American Studies): American National Identity through the Lens of the Superhero and the Supervillain in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

12:00
Lunch

13:00
SESSION 10: SUPERHEROES & TRANSMEDIA
1. Carl Wilson (Independent) Do you Wish to Save or Delete Your Progress?: Representation of DC Comic Book Women in Contemporary Video Games.
2. Daniel Trottier and Sarah Young (University of Rotterdam): The Superhero and the Digital Vigilante.
3. Irene Zarza Rubio (University of York): WandaVision: A Tale of Fan Theories.

14.30
Closing Remarks

14:45
Conference Ends

How to get to the Wolfsburg

  1. From the airport (Cologne or Düsseldorf are the closest airports), take the train to Duisburg main station (“Duisburg Hauptbahnhof”).
  2. From the main station you can take easily take a taxi which will get you to the Wolfsburg in about 10 minutes.
  3. You can also take the tram. Take the line 901 in the direction of “Mülheim” and exit at the stop “Monning” (“Haltestelle Monning”). The Wolfsburg is located on a hill so that you will need to walk up which will take about 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. If you arrive by car, take the A40 exit “Duisburg-Kaiserberg” and then follow the direction “Zoo / Universität Duisburg-Essen.” Parking is available for free at the Wolfsburg.

(cf. also https://www.die-wolfsburg.de/meta-navigation/anfahrt)

The Superhero Project: 5th Global Meeting

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th September 2021

Die Wolfsburg, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Essen, Germany
________________________________________

“This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle - broken, spent, unable to move. And, were I an older man, I surely would... But I am a man of thirty - of twenty - again. The rain on my chest is a baptism… I’m born again.” – The Dark Knight Returns (1986)

Thirty-five years ago, DC Comics published The Dark Knight Returns, bestowing the superhero genre with one of the most singularly revolutionary and influential works in its history. Written and drawn by firebrand artist Frank Miller, this operatic and determinedly hard-edged Batman tale – replete with a startling, pointedly cynical Establishment vision of Superman – triggered not only seismic change within the comics industry but also ushered in the era of so-called “grim and gritty” superheroes. The pervasive influence of this continues to this day in presentations of the superhero across all media.

This tectonic shift was firmly consolidated later that year with DC’s publication of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ ground-breaking Watchmen, which stunningly deconstructed superhero archetypes by considering notions of absolute power in a ‘real world’ setting. In the wake of both highly-acclaimed and enormously popular series – marking the start of “The Modern Age of The Superhero” - the genre was thrust towards mainstream and international attention, igniting fevered debate about the genre’s artistic merit.

In 2021, the superhero occupies an expansive, dominant and increasingly diverse space in popular culture. Alongside archetypal characters now entering their ninth decade of existence (Wonder Woman) progressive representations of the superhero abound (the Miles Morales incarnation of Spider-Man, CW’s Batwoman, HBO’s Watchmen, Harper Row, Wiccan), indicating that the superhero is more vibrant than ever before.

For its milestone fifth edition, The Superhero Project will focus on “The Progressive Age of The Superhero”, exploring the superhero’s capability of reflecting specific issues and operating as a powerful messenger of them - a power they have possessed since their inception.

The Superhero Project: 5th Global Meeting invites inter-disciplinary discussion on superheroes and notions of the super-heroic.  Indicative themes for discussion may include but are not limited to:

  • Identity and Disguise
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Adaptation
  • Deconstruction
  • Patriotism
  • Social Responsibility
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Fan Cultures
  • Mythology

ORGANISING CHAIRS

Danny Graydon (University of Hertfordshire)
d.graydon@herts.ac.uk

Torsten Caeners (University of Duisbug-Essen)
torsten.caeners@uni-due.de