Prof. Dr. Daniel Stein (University of Siegen) Keynote
Bodies in Transition: Queering the Comic Book Superhero
In recent years, American superhero comics have increasingly included LGBT characters. This inclusion marks the provisional culmination of a series of transitions from the potentially homosexual subtexts of Batman and Wonder Woman (noted first in the 1950s) to the introduction of a few gay characters in mostly minor series (1980s and 1990s) to the explicit agenda of sexually diversifying the superhero in our current moment. This paper argues that these historically developing depictions of superhero bodies and sexualities have been part of a larger process of genre evolution, driven by the participatory dynamics of popular serial storytelling, by shifting genre conventions, and by medium-specific practices of queering. Taking up the conference theme of flesh-and-blood bodies, the paper maintains that superhero comics continue to struggle with a fundamental tension between the need to depict invincible, excessively powerful, eroticized, and often highly unrealistic bodies and a growing demand for more vulnerable, more private, more ethnically and sexually diverse, and thus at least to some extent more human-like bodies. As such, superhero comics have both registered and shaped shifting notions of corporeality, sexual orientation, and gendered identities from the mid-twentieth century until today.
Kristina Fritsch (student)
Onomatopoeia –The Written Sound of Super Power
What Do The Bodies of Superheroes Sound Like? What Do They Not Sound Like?
Superheroes in graphic novels are often presented as personalities with a specific physical appearance. According to etymology the concept of personality can be traced back to the Latin term “personare“ -> “sound through“. My research should focus on „the sound“ of one superhero. I am going to present two case studies regarding the Graphic Novels and Film Series of ‚Batman‘. For instance I try to answer the questions: Which types of onomatopoeia are used in Batman comics and films. Is there a specific change of onomatopoeia concerning the position towards the body of Batman? Is the use of onomatopoeia for the characterisation of superheroes just a relict of the comic culture occurring within the 20th century?
Maike Karr (student)
Superpower or Disability? The Role of Blindness in Daredevil
On the one hand in Daredevil blindness is portrayed as a disability in his human life; on the other hand, blindness is portrayed as a superpower in his secret identity. This term paper is going to deal with the role of blindness in Daredevil. Especially with the contrary portrayal of it in his human and secret identity. At first I will take a look what several researches said about disability in superhero movies/ tv series/ comics. Furthermore, I will analyse the role of blindness in selected scenes. In the end, I will draw a conclusion in how far my thesis applies in Daredevil.
Dr. phil. Véronique Sina (University of Cologne) Keynote
Hit Girl Kick(s) Ass. Verletzte Körper und marginalisierte Männlichkeit im Superhelden-Genre.
Unter der Berücksichtigung des konstitutiven Wechselverhältnisses von Gender und Genre sowie des von R.W. Connell etablierten Konzepts der hegemonic masculinity präsentiert die Referentin im Rahmen ihres geplanten Vortrags eine Analyse der (hetero-)normativen Inszenierung von Geschlecht im Superhelden-Genre. Am Beispiel der Comicfilme KICK-ASS (USA/GB 2010) und KICK-ASS 2 (USA/GB 2013) wird sowohl die Konstruktion dominanter hegemonialer männlicher Subjektivität(en) als auch die Ablehnung und Verwerfung vermeintlich devianter Männlichkeit(en) aufgezeigt. Im Zentrum der KICK-ASS-Reihe – sowie der gleichnamigen Comicserie – steht Dave Lizewski, ein ganz ‚normaler’ Teenager, der in einer ganz ‚normalen’ Welt beschließt, ein ganz ‚normaler’ Superheld zu sein. Ohne besondere Kräfte oder Fähigkeiten ausgestattet, ist Dave alias Kick-Ass jedoch alles andere als ‚super’. Als Superheld ohne Superkräfte stellt Kick-Ass vielmehr eine unkonventionelle Figur dar, die mit den Genderkonstellationen und Genrekonventionen klassischer Superhelden-Inszenierungen bricht und aufgrund ihrer mangelnden Fähigkeiten und körperlichen Unzulänglichkeit nicht in der Lage ist, das hegemoniale sowie heteronormative Männlichkeitsbild des strahlenden, agilen Superhelden zu erfüllen. Wie im Rahmen des Vortrags verdeutlicht werden soll, wird diese Unzulänglichkeit in Comic und Film als homosexuell und damit gleichzeitig als pervers, verweiblicht sowie deviant markiert und mit Ablehnung bestraft. Infolgedessen muss die wiederholte Darstellung physischer (sowie verbaler) Gewaltakte, denen Dave bzw. Kick-Ass immer wieder ausgesetzt ist, als Form der Ausgrenzung und Verwerfung marginalisierter Männlichkeit(en) verstanden werden.
Barbara Simons (student)
The Invisible Woman: The Development from a Weak Girl to a Powerful Superheroine
In my paper I will talk about the Invisible Woman (Susan “Sue” Richards) from The Fantastic Four. I intend to answer the questions whether there is a development in the character during the story and how the character develops during the story. The Invisible Woman is the first female superhero ever created by Marvel Comics. In the beginning of the comic, Sue is called the “Invisible Girl”. She is represented as a woman who is more interested in beauty and shopping than in saving the world. She also tends to black out very often, which makes her fragile. Her superpowers are restricted and she is described as the weakest part of the group. All in all she fulfils the image of women in the early 1960s. From time to time she becomes more powerful and self-confident.; she is no longer described as a superficial and weak person. Her superpowers extend and she becomes a very important member for the group – the “Invisible Woman”. So all in all there is a very big development of the character during the story. This is best shown with scenes from older comics in comparison to later ones. Different criteria such as her looks, character, behaviour and superpowers should be taken into account to describe the development of the Invisible Girl/Woman should be pointed out. Although the comics will be the main medium to be analysed, selected films will also add to a nuanced overview.
Kathrin Herborn (student)
The Symbol of the Burka
The Series Burka Avenger as Feminist Statement
What can be so special about a Pakistani superhero comic series, when the hero fights against tyranny and ignorance just like Superman, Spiderman or Batman? The difference between those superheroes and the Pakistani heroine named Burka Avenger is how she disguises herself. She does not cloak herself with a mask or helmet, but with one of the most discussed objects in eastern and western culture: the burka; showing only her eyes and fingers and veiling the rest with a black suit. And she is not only fighting against corruption and violence, but rather for girls/childhood education, tolerance justice and peace. This comic series sparked a lot of debate about the depiction of the body. One the hand, the character gets praised for being a positive role model for young Muslim girls to identify themselves with. On the other hand, there is the concern that the burka is a symbol of the oppression of the female in the Muslim world. The purpose of this paper will be to show how the national identity and the role of the women play into the success of the series and how the series gives a new role model to the next generation.