CFP – Superheroes: A Companion

Superheroes: A Companion

Deadline for submissions: 

30 November 2021

Lorna Piatti-Farnell & Carl Wilson

lorna.piatti-farnell@aut.ac.nz & carl@carl-wilson.com

A new collection on superheroes is proposed for Peter Lang.

As media texts show us superheroes from around the world(s), demonstrating extraordinary abilities and living a life shaped by a moral code, how we define their iconic features and cultural impact has been the focus of much scholarly debate.

Superheroes have proliferated and multiplied in the 21st Century, coming to prominence in film, television, and video game industries the same way that their popular narratives had begun to flourish in the comic book industry some eighty years before. Yet, while all of these stories and characters are tethered to these early years of the genre, through iterative retellings, reboots, and cultural readjustments, superheroes have consistently found renewed life in modern and contemporary re-imaginings.

Seen through examples, such as the synergy of “Batmania”, the convergence culture of the MCU, the conglomerate hierarchies that facilitate the Arkham games, or the multi-verse publications that enable spaces for a female Thor or an Afro-Latino Spider-man, superheroes continue to evolve through the conditions of their production and the cultural discourses that they engender. Engagement with digital publication, indie presses, and crowdfunding platforms; SVOD platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which bounce off or tie in with IMAX cinematic spectacles; and a deeper investment in a plurality of voices and perspectives have enabled a wider variety of stories to be told in a multitude of different ways. Comics such as Quince (2016), Bitter Root (2018-), and Monsters (2021) share terrain with television adaptations of The Boys (2006-2008) and Watchmen (1986-1987), while Scarlet Witch, Harley Quinn, and Kamala Khan’s Captain Marvel have seen their own transmedia networks expand in recent years.        

However, Superheroes are not a discrete assemblage of tropes that have only just found cultural significance; like their mythic forbears, they are indelibly connected to issues of representation. Superheroes are socio-cultural spaces where the diversity of body politics, gender, and ethnicity have always been foregrounded and positioned alongside socio-historical politics. The narratives can be mainstream and countercultural; the settings can be relatable and otherworldly; the characters can be heroic and deeply challenging of that very concept. In their multiple incarnations, superheroes can be all aspects of humanity: amplified and distilled, or serious and silly.

In answer to the evolutionary portrayals of superheroes in our cultures, histories, and narratives, the editors welcome chapter proposals for selection and inclusion into Superheroes: A Companion. The volume will be part of the Fiction, Genre, and Film Companions series for Peter Lang, Oxford.

The topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Mythological, Historical, and Print Precursors
  • Superhero Formats and Platforms (comics, film, animation, and beyond)
  • Superhero Origin Stories
  • Codes, Conventions, and Authorities
  • The Publication ‘Ages’ of Superheroes
  • Adaptations and Re-makes (from comics to film, from film to television etc.)
  • Genre, and Cross-Genre Depictions (War, Western, Science Fiction, Horror, etc.)
  • Authorship (Multiple/Relinquished/Unknown/In-House)
  • Superhero Iconographies (including costumes)
  • Gender, Sexuality and Body Politics
  • Diversity, Ethnicity and Race
  • National Identities and Histories
  • Ecology and Environmental Concerns
  • Religion/Philosophy/Spirituality
  • War and Conflict
  • Ethics, Morality, Power, and Politics
  • Law-Enforcement and Vigilantism
  • Depictions of Time (past, present, future and beyond)
  • Heroic, Anti-Heroic, and Unheroic Actions
  • Science, Technology, and Augmentations
  • In/Post/Tran-Humanity, and Hybridity
  • Monsters and the Monstrous
  • Magic and the Occult
  • Superheroes and the Anthropocene
  • Modern Mythologies
  • Fandom, Merchandise, and Cosplay (including conventions and theme parks)
  • Games and Gaming
  • Superheroes in the Digital and Transmedia Age

The editors invite abstracts of around 300 words on any of the above topics.

Final essays will be 2,500 words in length, not including references.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 30 November 2021. Please email your abstracts (together with a short bio, 100 words max) for consideration to both editors: Lorna Piatti-Farnell, lorna.piatti-farnell@aut.ac.nz and Carl Wilson, carl@carl-wilson.com

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