New Faces Under Old Masks
Recent years have seen increasing attention from critics, readers, and publishers to issues of diversity in the superhero genre. Superhero comics and graphic novels have increasingly come to be regarded as valuable sources for understanding and investigating cultural attitudes surrounding the morality and ethics of power. So what does it mean when these narratives traditionally featuring white men, and produced by an overwhelmingly white and male comics industry, are revised to feature women and people of color? How does our understanding of the cultural significance of superheroes change when Captain America is African American, Thor is a woman, or Ms. Marvel is a teenaged Muslim girl? What tools do the familiar features of the superhero genre – secret identities, startling physical transformations, astonishing powers – offer for thinking through the complexities of race and gender in contemporary America?
At this symposium, three distinguished figures from the world of comics and comics scholarship will bring their unique insights to bear on intriguing and complex questions surrounding the evolving treatment of race and gender in superhero comics and even film: Jonathan Gray, Associate Professor of English at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Conseula Francis, Professor of English and Associate Provost at the College of Charleston; and David Walker, filmmaker, author, and acclaimed comics writer of series such as Shaft and Cyborg. Each panelist will deliver a short presentation, followed by a roundtable discussion and Q&A with the audience. This event accompanies the library’s ongoing exhibit, “Graphic Sensibility: Selected Comics and Illustrations from DC to Durer” co-curated by Brannon Costello, Associate Professor in the LSU Department of English, and Jenny Mitchell, Head of Manuscripts Processing at Hill Memorial Library. Design by TORY CUNNINGHAM.