The Superhero Project: 2nd Global Meeting
Call for Presentations 2016
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom
“With great power, comes great irresponsibility...” – Deadpool
In the twenty-first century, the Superhero now holds an unparalleled position within pop culture. Having vastly expanded beyond its birth medium of comic books to what is a fierce and pervasive presence in multiple media, this domination is no more apparent than the realms of mainstream cinema, where blockbuster superhero films routinely break box-office records and more than thirty further films are set to be released by 2020.
In 2016, DC Comics trinity of flagship characters – Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – finally appear on screen together for the first time in Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, while the steadfast heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will fracture in “Captain America: Civil War” and the group villainy of “Suicide Squad” will see anti-heroism placed front and centre. The surprise success of “Deadpool” has ignited a renewed appetite for “R-rated” superhero material and, on TV, the richly-noir “Jessica Jones” merges the superhero with urban sleuth, exploring such dark topics as Rape and PTSD, and “Marvel’s Daredevil” has provided a platform for the discussion of disability issues.
Meanwhile, real individuals are being elevated to the status of superhero – literally and metaphorically. The “Real Life Superhero” phenomenon – in which people dress in superhero costume to enact community service or vigilantism – continues apace, while the military maintains the development of technology that allows soldiers to considerably augment their physical strength. In the halls of comic conventions worldwide, fans demonstrate their devotion to specific iterations of superhero characters via detailed cosplay.
After seventy-eight years of comic book existence, the superhero remains regarded as an inspirational figure, but also a divisive one, perceived in some quarters as a promoter of violence and vigilantism. Superheroes position themselves as purveyors of a specific set of moral values, sometimes above the law, but always striving for the greater good. Superheroes are typically depicted in a constant struggle with notions of personal responsibility, and questions of identity and destiny, in line with Joseph Campbell’s “Monomyth”.
Perceived as a modern form of mythology or folklore, the superhero currently occupies a diverse and expansive space in modern popular culture. Yet, while still largely American in focus, the superhero has become increasingly international, capable of reflecting specific issues and operating as a powerful messenger of them – a power they have possessed since their inception in the spring of 1938. As more and more people wear the symbols of superheroes (via t-shirts etc.) as an expression of values as well as fandom, the superhero is becoming us.
The 2nd Global Conference on Superheroes invites interdisciplinary discussion on superheroes and the notion of the super-heroic. Areas of discussion could include:
Indicative themes for discussion may include but are not limited to:
The postmodern superhero
Secret identities, transformation / becoming
The queering of the superhero genre
The intellectualisation of superhero narratives
Regulation, Moral Relativity and Authority
Superheroes at home
Superhero utopias and dystopias.
Globalisation and Cultural Appropriation
The superhero’s role in war and conflict
The superhero in childhood play
Gadgetry and cyborg prosthetics
In addition to the presentation of conference papers, the Project Team welcomes the submission of shorts workshops and accounts of professional practice, as well as other contributions, including performances. It particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals.
Further details and information can be found at the conference website:
Details about our review policy can be found here:
Call for Cross-Over Presentations
The Superhero project will be meeting at the same time as a project on Fear, Horror and Terror. We welcome submissions which cross the divide between both project areas. If you would like to be considered for a cross project session, please mark your submission “Crossover Submission”.
What to Send:
300 word abstracts, proposals and other forms of contribution should be submitted by FRiDay 15 March 2016
All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision by
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by
Abstracts may be in Word, RTF or Notepad 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.
E-mails should be entitled: Superhero Abstract Submission
Danny Graydon: email@example.com
Rob Fisher: firstname.lastname@example.org
This event is an inclusive interdisciplinary research and publishing project. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.