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A Literacy Landscape Unresolved

Beyond the Boy Crisis and into Superhero Fiction

Michael Kehler and Jacob Cassidy

Drawing on qualitative data of secondary school students, we examine how gender is implicated in a specific provincial literacy directive to employ comics and superhero fiction to engage boys. Grounded in a multiliteracies and masculinities framework, we interrogate the intersection of gender and literacy practices in a secondary school English classroom. The research in this article offers a counternarrative to a prevailing discourse grounded in essentialist notions of all boys as struggling readers and instead illustrates the rich potential between students’ lifeworld connections and comics as engaging and critical literacy texts beyond the “boy book” approach adopted in many literacy classrooms. We further argue that a sharper focus on critical literacy pedagogy, which incorporates comics and superhero fiction, reveals an invisibility of gender differences among adolescent reading practices rather than the visibility that has prompted and maintained gendered reform strategies to “help the boys” increase achievement levels in literacy classrooms.

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Tehmina Pirzada

In this article I focus on the graphic narratives Gogi (1970–the present) by Nigar Nazar and Haroon Rashid’s Burka Avenger (2013–the present) in particular to examine the empowering portrayal of Muslim girlhood that these works offer in addition to advocating for the rights of Muslim girls. I emphasize that graphic narratives have become a powerful medium that represents the resistance of Muslim girlhood both in the context of local patriarchies and as a tool to challenge the stereotypical representation of Muslim identities globally. By focusing on the depiction of the girl protagonists in these graphic narratives, I analyze how these artists rework the western superhero trope to foreground the girls’ everyday heroism. Moreover, by situating the interaction of the girls with Pakistani cityscapes, I argue, in terms of De Certeau’s concept of tactics, that the protagonists navigate the Pakistani cities as familiar places rather than as othered spaces.

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Ann Miller, Patricia Mainardi, Karin Kukkonen, Viviane Alary, Jaqueline Berndt, Tony Venezia and Jennifer Anderson Bliss

CONFERENCE REVIEW

Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women – Communities of Experience? One-day symposium, JW3, Jewish Community Centre for London, 12 November 2014

BOOK REVIEWS

Thierry Smolderen, The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, trans. Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen

Julia Round, Gothic in Comics and Graphic Novels: A Critical Approach

François-Emmanuel Boucher, Sylvain David and Maxime Prévost, eds, Mythologies du superhéros: Histoire, physiologie, géographie, intermédialités

Dan Mazur and Alexander Danner, Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present

Annessa Ann Babic, ed., Comics as History, Comics as Literature: Roles of the Comic Book in Scholarship, Society, and Entertainment

Jane Tolmie, ed., Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art

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Nicholas Robinette

The comics anthologies Ally Sloper and Escape magazine began publication in the 1970s and 1980s. They inherited a complex national situation, one in which locally produced comics always had to compete with foreign imports, primarily superhero comics from the United States. Each of these pioneering anthologies sought to create a space for small press and independent English comics and a wider sense of the history and potential of the medium, but in doing so, they had to negotiate a history and market shaped by the consumption of comics from the United States. Placing the anthologies within this larger situation, this article interprets the work of these various editors in terms of the national and cosmopolitan strategies they deployed as they sought to further develop English comics.

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Batman Returns

Brazilian Conflicts and the Popular Culture of Sovereignty

Martijn Oosterbaan

This article explores the aesthetic elements of sovereignty. Building on the anthropological literature on sovereignty and on contemporary work on the politics of aesthetics, the article analyzes contemporary appearances of Batman symbols and figures in Rio de Janeiro. Despite political debate and academic discussion about the Batmen appearing in mafia-like militias and popular street protests in Rio, the question of what these appearances tell us about the relations between popular imagery and political contestation has remained untouched. This article supports the work of writers who argue that superhero comics and movies present fierce figures that operate in the zone of indistinction, at the crossroads of lawful order and its exception. However, it adds to this literature an analysis that shows in what kind of sociopolitical contexts these figures operate and how that plays itself out. To understand the contemporary appearances and force of figures of the entertainment industry better, this article proposes the concept “popular culture of sovereignty.”