Author Archive

CFP: Expanding Universes. Exploring Transmedial & Transfictional Ways of World-Building 23rd-25th September 2016, Kraków (Poland)

May 11, 2016

Expanding Universes. Exploring Transmedial & Transfictional Ways of World-Building
23rd-25th September 2016,
Kraków (Poland)

Thinking of storyworlds as representations that transcend media
not only expands the scope of narratology beyond its “native” territory of language-based narrative […] but also provides a much-needed center of convergence and point of comparison to media studies.
M.-L. Ryan & Jan Noël Thon

It is no doubt that with the dynamic evolution of fantastic narratives a world-centered model of storytelling has started to proliferate, changing the way one can interact with fictional representations of worlds in literature, movies, video games, comic books, any other media. A growing interest in media-conscious world-building, both amongst scholars and fans, clearly shows that the future of narrative and media studies lays not with monomedial, but transmedial studies—especially when no-one seems to question cross-overs, retellings, remediations, or any other narrative devices so common in contemporary storytelling. From Star Wars Expanded Universe/Legends top-down and bottom-up transfictional storytelling or transmedial campaign for The Hunger Games the movie to multimodal storytelling in Doug Dorst’s “S” or Bioshock: Infinite”—we all engage in a plethora of ways of world-making, and what transmedial narratology needs nowadays to do, is to analyze these storyworlds in their variety without imposing any paradigmatic world-building model for creators to follow. Consequently, organizers of the conference will welcome presentations or full panel proposals covering:

 key and emerging concepts in transmedia studies and transmedial narratology;
 theoretical discrepancies between transmediality, multimodality, and transfictionality;
 theory, history, and philosophy of world-building in literature and other media;
 top-down and bottom-up world-building and storytelling;
 ways of inhabiting fictional/virtual worlds: immersion, interactivity, and beyond;
 franchises and franchised universes: their expansion and narrative potential;
 fan & fandom studies with an emphasis on participatory authorship in shared universes, entertainment
supersystems, and more;
 means of narrative/economical control (i.e. canon, moderated/curated content, licencing etc.) in massive
world-building enterprises;
 psychological and philosophical contexts of world creation;
 case studies of transmediality, transfictionality, and world-building across media (MCU, Game of Thrones,
StarCitizen, Star Wars, DC Universe, and many more);

Confirmed conference keynote speaker is a prominent narrative theorist, Marie-Laure Ryan, author of the
most important books in possible worlds theory, hypertextuality, transmedia storytelling, transfictionality & multimodality,
immersion theory, and narrative studies, such as Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative
Theory (1991), Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media
(2001), Avatars of Story (2006), or (co-edited), Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling (2004)
and Storyworlds Across Media. Toward Media-Conscious Narratology (2015).

The conference language is English. To register for the conference, one should sent in editable format (.doc,
.docx.) 600-words abstracts featuring (1) the title of presentation, (2) a concise bio-note, (3) current affiliation,
and (4) all necessary contact information (official email address & phone number) at
by June 30th
2016. Successful applicants will be notified within two weeks after the deadline.
Attendees are also encouraged to send us full panel proposals composed of (1) abstracts from a minimum
number of 4 delegates, (2) up to 600 words description of the pa-nel, (3) a suggested title of the panel and, most
importantly, (4) email addresses of all delegates included in the proposed panel.
The conference fee of 100€ will cover conference materials, catering and all other essentials, but does not
include accommodation.

Further details regarding the venue, suggested accommodation and transportation will be continuously
updated at the website Organisers do welcome all questions and requests
The conference will be followed by a peer-reviewed monograph, published by Facta Ficta Research Centre
and licenced under Creative Commons 4.0 as an ebook stored in a globally accessible repository (CeON Center
for Open Science) and / or in peer-reviewed special editions of renowned scholarly journals.
We look forward to seeing you in Kraków!

Ksenia Olkusz, PhD (Facta Ficta Research Centre in Kraków)
Piotr Kubiński, PhD (University of Warsaw)
Krzysztof M. Maj (Jagiellonian University, Facta Ficta Research Centre in Kraków) – project co-ordinator
Sven Dwulecki (Eberhard Karls University Tübingen)

CFP: Academia and Humanities at Nine Worlds 2016

April 15, 2016

For the past three years, the Nine Worlds convention hosted an academic conference. We ran a combination of solely academic sessions, as well as placing academic speakers on panels and tracks in a more casual manner – details of last year’s sessions on the Academia and History tracks are still available on the Nine Worlds website. This year, we’re looking for content in a similar vein for the new Academia and Humanities content area, which has an even broader remit than previous years’ Academia track.

With that in mind, we’re inviting submissions for papers and suggested panels, as well as volunteers to talk on pre-organised panels. All areas of study surrounding ‘geek media’ are accepted – from video games to classic fantasy, and we welcome submissions from anyone who is a current student or has graduated with a degree in a field related to their topic. Talks will be ideally 20-30 minutes in length, and the standard panel time is 1 hour.

Nine Worlds will take place August 12th-14th 2016 at Novotel London West. Tickets are available for purchase, and they will grant you access to the whole convention – not just the academic content.

Suggested areas of submission include:

Video Games and their impact/role within wider culture
Board, Social and Role-playing Games
Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature
Diversity and representation in geek culture
‘Geek’ film and TV
Research as a fannish practice
History and its relation to geek media/culture
Science and its relation to geek media/culture
Religion and philosophy and their relation to geek media/culture
Please ensure your paper/panel is suited to non-academics. Ideally, you may assume the audience has full knowledge of primary sources, but little secondary, so please take this into consideration. We intend to each session be accessible and understandable to those outside of the usual academic groups. In addition, please take note of our anti-harassment policy.

Please send a title, a 300 word abstract, your name and affiliation (the university you are currently at or most recently graduated from) to
The deadline for submissions is April 30th, 2016. This deadline is for abstracts/submissions to be a panellist only.

Registration will be completed through the purchase of a ticket to the convention as a whole. Accommodation should be booked separately by individual participants. All profits from the conference/convention will go to charity. Please do email if you have questions or concerns about finance, as we do have a limited budget available to assist those otherwise unable to attend.
Nine Worlds deliberately tries to promote parity of race, sexual orientation, genders and creeds as a part of its programming remit. We aim to follow this in our selection of panellists, and would also be interested in including papers or panels that address these issues. However, we are aware that some people do not want to discuss these as direct topics, and wish to be sensitive to this, so you will only be asked to speak on topics that you offer to.

Thank you,
Claire Wilkinson & Tony Keen
Academia and Humanities Content Group Organizers

CFP: Audiences and Adaptation: Literature/Film Quarterly Special Issue (Abstract Deadline May 1, 2016)

April 11, 2016

In his essay “Adaptation and New Media,” Michael Ryan Moore reflects on the status of adaptation studies in the digital age, stating that with new media “adaptation becomes a strategy of participation. Rather than develop wholly new works, audiences take ownership over existing media, adapting the stories, shows, and films that they most identify with.” In this special issue of LFQ, we seek to explore the role of audiences in adaptation and the manner in which adaptation is a participatory process. How do audiences make meaning out of adapted properties? What is the role of memory or nostalgia in adaptation? How might transmedia storytelling ask audiences to interact with texts in new and exciting ways? How does fan culture complicate existing models of author/encoder and spectator/decoder?

Adaptation studies have long asked useful and engaging questions concerning the textual and authorial dimensions of adaptation processes, but has not as readily addressed the role of audiences in this equation. Nor has the field engaged fully with the rich and innovative work done in reception studies. For this issue of LFQ, we seek to put adaptation studies and reception studies in conversation.

We welcome work that explores the complex relationship between adaptation and audiences from a variety of disciplinary, critical, and historical perspectives. Possible areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:

•Amateur, unauthorized, “sweded,” or fan–produced adaptations
•Cosplay, role-playing, and –Con festivals
•Fan love and cinephilia for adapted properties
•Fan hatred or rejection of adapted properties
•Franchises, multi-platform, and transmedia storytelling
•Scholar-fandom and autoethnography
•Adaptation as a mode of reception/fandom
•Remaking, rebooting, and the “reclaimed” text
•Stardom and adaptation
•Adaptation to/from video games and other participatory formats
•Oppositional reading or queering adaptation
•Fan or slash fiction; exploration or extension of storyworlds
•Adaptation and affect, emotion, or sensation
•Adaptation and nostalgia/memory
•Paratexts and/as adaptations
•Merchandising and collecting
•Advertising and marketing of adaptations
•Censorship, rating systems, test audiences, and boycotts
•Kickstarter and crowd-sourced film adaptations
•Exhibition practices and distribution of adaptations

Please submit a 500-800 word abstract in MLA style to by May 1, 2016. Your abstract should outline your working thesis and briefly sketch the theoretical framework(s) within which your essay will be situated. If accepted, full articles of 5,000 to 6,500 words must be submitted by October 3, 2016. The Special Issue will run in October 2017 as part of LFQ’s new online open access format.

Please email LFQ Assistant Editor Andrew Scahill at with any questions.

CFP: Neo-peplum Films and Television 1990 to Present

April 9, 2016

Neo-peplum Films and Television 1990 to Present

After the success of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in 2000, the sword-and-sandal genre of films was officially resurrected and has not seen such a prolific output since its heyday in Italy in the late 1950s and 1960s. This second wave of peplum films – or more specifically “neo-peplum” to reflect this distinctive contemporary cycle – has achieved unprecedented critical and commercial success, with big screen films such as 300 to ambitiously realized small screen fare such as Spartacus and Rome. Marginal, critically panned and box office bombs such as Gods of Egypt still make an impact, contributing to the canon of films. With an upcoming remake of Ben-Hur on the horizon, films set in ancient Greek and Roman times, based on their mythologies or featuring gladiatorial combat or large centurion armies, are certainly in demand to theater-goers and Netflix binge watchers.
With such films enjoying popularity, it invites an academic gaze to unearth their cinematic importance beyond simple movie watching consumption. These films and television shows are definitely important: are they a reflection of our times? With our high tech lives, what is the fascination with depictions of the ancient world? With body and gender dialogue more open, what does this say about films that have a strong emphasis on the herculean male or Amazonian female?
This anthology is looking for essays that aim to explore this neo-peplum cycle of films that shares commonality to the original Italian films and Hollywood historic epics. The original peplum cycle of films began with Hercules in 1958, so it is appropriate to say the neo-peplum cycle begins anew with the Hercules character in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys of the 1990s. This anthology seeks to solidify the neo-peplum genre as a distinct term and re-appropriate it to specifically refer to sword-and-sandal films and television shows made after 1990 and evaluate these entries in a variety of interdisciplinary lenses and frameworks.

Potential Essay Topics
A list of possible (but not comprehensive) topics and themes that contributors could submit on:
Anti-Peplum – exploring change in tone from adventure and action to more dramatic and gritty stories
Portrayal of women from vamps and damsels in the original peplum cycle to Xena-inspired characters in the present cycle (Xena, The Arena)
General Masculinity/Femininity portrayal
Compare/contrast original Italian cycle with present cycle
Compare/contrast original stories/characters with remakes (Hercules remakes, Clash of Titans remake)
Close reading at source material and how neo-peplum films interpret them
Neo-peplums as allegory for present day politics
Peplums for young adults (Gods of Egypt)
Neo-peplums combining with other genres – such as sci-fi (John Carter) or disaster film (Pompeii)
Ancient worlds portrayed in “hyper-realistic” fashion
Mono-myth and neo-peplum characters
Auteur theory and neo-peplum directors (Timur Bekmambetov and The Arena)
Pastiche, parody, subversion (Hail, Caesar!, Meet the Spartans)
Representations of race, white-washing
Fans, fandom and fan cultures of neo-peplum series (Hercules, Xena, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson)
Shakespeare, tragedy (Titus)

Authors are encouraged to submit more than one abstract. If you have multiple great ideas for potential essay chapters, feel free to submit each one. I will assemble the most cohesive arrangement of essays that will provide the most well-rounded discussion of neo-peplum films.

Films and Television Series
Below is a list of potential films and television series post 1990 that could potentially fit into the neo-peplum formula. This list is by no means complete, but it is presented to give examples of the types of films/TV shows that fit within this genre and to inspire creative ideas for the films to write about. Not all neo-peplum films deal directly with ancient Greece or Rome, as some of the aesthetics and styles are being used for Egyptian, Viking and barbarian themed films as well. This list is only a guide; other films and TV shows that are neo-peplum-like will certainly be entertained for this book.
300 (2007), 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), Agora (2009), Alexander (2004), The Arena (2001), Centurion (2010), Clash of the Titans (2010), The Eagle (2011), Gladiator (2000), Gods of Egypt (2016), Hail, Caesar! (2016), Hercules (1997), Hercules (2014), Immortals (2011), John Carter (2012), The Last Legion (2007), Meet the Spartans (2008), Pompeii (2014), Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010), The Scorpion King (2002) and its sequels, Titus (1999), Troy (2004), Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Television Series
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999), Rome (2005-2007), Spartacus (2010–2013), Vikings (2013-present), Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001), Young Hercules (1998-1999)

Publication Timetable
Below follows a generous timetable at essay composition, editing and submitting:
June 30, 2016 – Deadline for abstract submissions
July 10, 2016 – Notification of acceptance, distribution of style guide
December 4, 2016 – Chapter drafts are due
April 29, 2017 – Chapter revisions due
May 31, 2017 – Submission of manuscript to the publisher
Drafts and revisions are strongly encouraged to be submitted before the deadlines. The essays will follow Chicago style citations. The style guide when disseminated will round out the essay specifications.

Abstract Submission Instructions
Please submit your abstract(s) of roughly 500 words along with your academic CV/resume and preliminary bibliography to the email address below before June 30th. Please use an appropriate subject line when submitting – have it contain the phrase “neo-peplum submission.” I will confirm each submission via email within 48 hours.
Essayists will receive a contributor’s copy of the book when it is published.

Nicholas Diak, editor

Nicholas Diak is an independent pop culture scholar residing in southern California. He has a strong interest in neofolk and post-industrial music, exploitation cinema, Italian genre films and H.P. Lovecraft. He has contributed to the book James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy (McFarland, 2014) and has an essay appearing in an upcoming anthology on space-horror films. He is a frequent presenter at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Conference, a contributor to the website Heathen Harvest and a member of the H.P. Lovecast Podcast. He is also an academic member of the Horror Writers Association and National Coalition of Independent Scholars.

#peplum #neo-peplum #spartacus #rome #300 #gladiator

CFP: Becoming: Essays on NBC’s Hannibal

March 30, 2016 and
Deadline for Abstracts: July 1, 2016
Deadline for Completed Essays: January 15, 2017

The NBC series Hannibal has garnered both critical and fan acclaim for its cinematic qualities, its complex characters, and its fascinating reworking of Thomas Harris’ mythology so well known from Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs (1991) and its variants. The television series concluded late in 2015 after three seasons and in spite of a great deal of fan support for its continuation on a premium network or through a paid service like Netflix.

Hannibal builds on the serial killer narratives of popular procedurals, while taking them in a drastically different direction. Like critically acclaimed series such as Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, it makes its viewers complicit in the actions of a deeply problematic individual, and, in the case of Hannibal, forces them to confront that complicity through the character of Will Graham. As both an extension of and divergence from these trends, Hannibal is also worth exploring in its own right as a simultaneously stunning and grotesque exploration of the darkest depths of the human psyche. Also of interest is Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller’s easy relationship with fans, in contrast to other showrunners (Supernatural, Game of Thrones) who often clash with fans over directorial and interpretive choices.

We are soliciting essays for an edited collection and are presently in negotiation with a university press for publication in late 2017 or early 2018. Please send a 300-word abstract and brief biography to and before July 1, 2016. Completed essays of 6,000-6,500 words will be due on January 15, 2017.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:
● The grotesque and the monstrous
● Transformations/metamorphosis
● The enduring appeal of Hannibal Lecter
● Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham as dual protagonists
● The seductive nature of evil/Hannibal as a Vice figure
● The viewer as voyeur or accomplice
● Queer motifs and readings
● Female characters (including those whose gender was changed from the novels)
● Horror/Gothic elements
● Visual aesthetics of violence/gore/murder
● Cannibalism
● Depictions of food/foodie culture
● Similarities and differences from Harris’ novels and previous adaptations
● Hannibal’s use of art, literature, and musical referents
● Depictions of mental illness and disability
● Serial killers in popular media
● Visual and narrative motifs of Hannibal
● Bryan Fuller’s relationship with the “fannibals,” fans of the show

CFP: Feasting on Hannibal: An Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Melbourne, Australia, 29-30 November 2016

March 30, 2016

Screen Studies and the School of Culture and Communication, The Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne
November 29-30, 2016

Keynote Speaker: Associate Professor Jane Stadler, The University of Queensland

Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter is one of contemporary popular culture’s most prominent and recognisable models of monstrosity. Initially conceived in the 1981-2006 novel series by Thomas Harris, Hannibal exists at the centre of a sprawling franchise that includes the critically acclaimed film, The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991), and most recently Bryan Fuller’s television series Hannibal (2013-2015). The diverse texts that constitute the Hannibal franchise demonstrate the fertile potential of the Hannibal mythology to extend and develop across multiple media, and the complexity of Hannibal himself as a boundary-defying figure of modern monstrosity and the senses. At the centre of Hannibal’s monstrosity is a breakdown of the boundaries between high and low art, the mythic and the everyday, and refinement and savagery. Accordingly, critical interest in the Hannibal franchise has focused on Hannibal’s embodiment of the boundary transgressions central to scholarly understandings of monstrosity.

Critical analyses of the books and films have been both profound and widespread across various disciplines. More recently, Fuller’s Hannibal has not only redefined what came before, but has inspired, extended and renewed interest in this seminal figure. The “Feasting on Hannibal” conference aims to push the boundaries of previous conceptualizations of the Hannibal series, while reflecting on how the television show has reframed the culture of Hannibal. This conference looks to the future of the franchise as a continually developing and mutating mythology, welcoming papers that examine Hannibal across any of his multiple incarnations, but especially considering how Hannibal mythology has been reformulated and extended since Fuller’s television series.

Screen Studies and the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne invite you to submit abstract proposals for an interdisciplinary conference feast that turns the tables on Hannibal Lecter, offering Hannibal up for a meal of multiple courses and scholarly cuisines.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

Hannibal’s influence on screen culture
Hannibal as embodiment of contemporary monstrosity
Hannibal and the sensorium
Hannibal as mythology
Aesthetics and affect in Hannibal
Hannibal as a franchise property
Hannibal, seriality and transmedia storytelling
Self-reflexivity and intertextuality
Hannibal and adaptation
Hannibal and genre
High-concept television
High art and elite tastes
The aesthetics of violence
Hannibal and fandom
The culture of food in Hannibal
Cannibalism, food and body horror
Representations of animality and the post human in Hannibal
Criminal monstrosity and moral panic
Depictions of psychology and emotions
The development of gender and sexuality in the Hannibal mythology
The music of Hannibal and Hannibal’s music

Submit queries and abstracts of no more than 300 words length, as well as a short bio, before 15th of May to

Organised by: Dr Jessica Balanzategui, Naja Later, and Tara Lomax, The University of Melbourne

New issue of Transformative Works and Culture journal published: Special issue on The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work

March 16, 2016

The following new issue of Transformative Works and Cultures has been published:

Vol 21 (2016)
The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work, edited by Ika Willis (University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

Full issue available here:

Table of Contents
The classical canon and/as transformative work
Ika Willis

Classical monsters in new Doctor Who fan fiction
Amanda Potter

Amateur mythographies
Ika Willis

Versions of Homer: Translation, fan fiction, and other transformative rewriting
Shannon K. Farley

Abusing text in the Roman and contemporary worlds
Francesca Middleton

Fan fiction, early Greece, and the historicity of canon
Ahuvia Kahane

Virgilian fandom in the Renaissance
Balaka Basu

The role of affect in fan fiction
Anna Wilson

Are fan fiction and mythology really the same?
Tony Keen

Shipping in Plato’s Symposium
Juliette Grace Harrisson

Oresteia as transformative work
Tisha Turk

Fandom at the crossroads and Fangasm!, by Lynn Zubernis and Kathy Larsen
Judith May Fathallah

Fan CULTure: Essays on participatory fandom in the 21st century, edited by Kristin M. Barton and Jonathan Malcolm Lampley
Bertha Chin

Call for Papers: Fan Studies, 2016 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference, Chicago, USA, 6-9 October 2016

March 16, 2016

Call for Papers:


2016 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference

Thursday-Sunday, October 6-9, 2016

Chicago, IL

Hilton Chicago/Rosemont O’Hare

Deadline: April 30, 2016

Topics can include, but are not limited to fan fiction, multi-media fan production, fan communities, fandom of individual media texts, sports fandom, or the future of fandom. Case studies are also welcome.

Please upload 250 word abstract proposals on any aspect of Fan Studies to the Fan Studies area,

More information about the conference can be found at

Please note the availability of graduate student travel grants:

Please include name, affiliation, and e-mail address with the 250 word abstract. Also, please indicate in your submission whether your presentation will require an LCD Projector and/or Audio hookup.

Any questions? Please email Katie Wilson at

Call for Papers: Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures, EABS annual meeting, Leuven, Belgium, July 17-20

March 15, 2016

Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures
EABS annual meeting, Leuven, Belgium, July 17-20


Sonja Ammann, Humboldt University Berlin (

Mette Bundvad, University of Copenhagen (

Frauke Uhlenbruch (


This unit brings together scholars and practitioners to investigate scribal culture in biblical and para-biblical literatures in comparison and contrast with the practice of writing fan fiction.

Writers of fan fiction are well-versed in specific canons, for example a book or TV series. They engage with their canons in depth and create literature either set in the same fictional world as their canonical material or featuring the same characters. The material produced by fans, known as fan fiction, is a way of engaging with perceived canonical material that is intuitive and emotional, and can also be subversive. This research unit investigates possible intersections of fans’ ways of creating material based on a canon and (post-) biblical interpreters’ or redactors’ ways of compiling commentary or supplementary material on biblical canons in antiquity. The unit invites constructive and critical engagement with discontinuities (as well as continuities). For example, fan fiction is a contemporary phenomenon whose increased visibility is due to the Internet; put more generally, production and distribution is based on infrastructure different from ancient writings; therefore one may also expect different power relations and institutional contexts.

Fan fiction can be compared to the practices of groups of interpreters who have impacted the Bible and biblical interpretation in significant ways. This comparison can raise and answer questions about group identity, power, subversion, and impact of derivative works upon the canon. Fan fiction as a heuristic model allows us to study historical responses to antique corpora of texts, expressions of identities couched in derivative works, subversive manipulations of a canonical status quo, and emotional reactions to a canonical work.

Call for Papers 2016

This research group uses fan fiction as an interpretative model to study ancient texts, especially biblical and parabiblical texts from the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the pseudepigrapha, the New Testament, the Christian apocrypha, and Rabbinic literature.
At the 2016 conference in Leuven, we invite papers that use expressions of identity in contemporary fan fiction to investigate questions related to authorship and identity in ancient texts. Possible topics include, for example, strategies of constructing or concealing authorship (pseudepigraphy/anonymity), or scholarly assumptions about authors/creators based on the drift of a canon-related work. We also welcome papers that explore expressions of gendered identities, and how gendered expectations affect practices of writing and interpretation. We encourage participants to make their contributions in an interdisciplinary environment and we welcome papers concerned with methodology of the study of fan fiction, fans, and scribal culture.

Click here ( to submit an abstract.

Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures

Call for Papers: Superhero Identities Symposium, Melbourne, Australia – 8-9 December 2016

March 15, 2016

Superhero Identities Symposium
Venue: Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) – Melbourne, Australia – 8-9 December 2016

Keynote Speaker: Professor Henry Jenkins – University of Southern California

It is hard to imagine a time when superheroes have been more pervasive in popular culture. As one of our most beloved folkloric traditions these costume-clad adventurers have become a means to negotiate and articulate identities in response to fictional heroes. Superhero identities range from those that symbolise a nation, to web communities that use cosplay to challenge gender roles, and the people of a city coming together under the banner of a caped crusader. This symposium will examine the many intersections between superheroes and identity. From big screen heroes to lesser-known comic book vigilantes and real-life costumed heroes, the symposium will include papers that consider superheroes across all eras and media platforms

We are inviting submissions for individual research papers of 20 minutes as well as pre-formed panels. Proposal topics might include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

One of the central tenets of the superhero story is the transition of unassuming civilians into costume-clad heroes. This narrative is not confined to the comic book page as the people of San Francisco demonstrated when they came together to realise the adventures of Batkid. Proposals are invited that consider how superheroes have become icons of activism and community engagement.

National and Regional Identities
Comic books are often considered an American form, and the medium’s most popular character, the superhero, did much to affirm that link with dozens of star-spangled heroes created during the industry’s Golden Age. However, the superhero has been reimagined in a range of contexts to respond to local cultures, politics, and traditions. Papers that consider how superheroes engage with national and regional identities are welcome.

Secret Identities
The masquerade and imaginative possibilities of superheroes, coupled with their high concept settings, have allowed these characters to engage with issues and interests that were often difficult to tackle in more “grounded” stories. Papers that consider how superheroes address topics such as gender, sexuality, and ethnicity are invited.

Audiences, Fans, and Superheroes
Whether it is t-shirts adorned with a familiar logo or convention cosplay and fan fiction, superheroes compel participation. We encourage papers that examine the range of this engagement from casual movie audiences to avid consumers.

The supervillain is often understood as the hero’s dark double. This symposium welcomes papers that consider the identities of the supervillains, and their relationship to the above topics.

The Superhero Identities symposium is organised by the Superheroes & Me research team – Angela Ndalianis (University of Melbourne), Liam Burke (Swinburne University of Technology), Elizabeth MacFarlane (University of Melbourne), Wendy Haslem (University of Melbourne), and Ian Gordon (National University of Singapore) – and supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
Proposals of 250-300 words for individual presentations or full panels, as well as any queries, should be sent to by June 24, 2016, along with a 150-word bio.


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