Sunday, 20 February 2011

"Tights and Tiaras" - an upcoming conference on female superheroes

My wife and I have been members of a feminist reading group in Monash University's School of English, Communications and Performance Studies for a couple of years. Our group is currently organising a symposium on female superheroes, titled "Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures," to be held at Monash University (Clayton) in August. Check out the call for papers below the break. I'll post more details throughout the year. The last conference organised by the reading group was "Vampires, Vamps and Va Va Voom: A Critical Engagement with Paranormal Romance."

You might also like to check out the following blogs run by other members of the reading group:

Patrick has also compiled a list of blogs and websites maintained by staff and students associated with English, Communications and Performance Studies at Monash, which can be found on his blog.


12-13 August 2011

Monash University, Melbourne

Sponsored by: The Centre for the Book, Monash University

In 2010, the 600th issue of Wonder Woman celebrated the Amazonian superhero’s longevity in print media. To mark the occasion, the issue reinvented the superhero’s iconic costume to make it less revealing, introducing dark trousers and a blue, starred jacket. This shift to more practical, less sexualised wear arguably reflects changing attitudes about gender and the growing female presence in the comics industry. Nonetheless, the change prompted some controversy online amongst fan communities, again highlighting the problematic history of the representation of women as powerful figures.

‘Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures’ is a one and a half day interrogation of the construct of the ‘superhero’ as female and more generally of the representation of powerful female figures in fantasy and science fiction. Looking at a range of print and visual media, papers will explore the range of female characters in superhero narratives, the material history of the female superhero, and how visual and textual constructs of female heroes - and anti-heroes - have been re-imagined, re-invented and re-packaged over time.

Possible topics include:
  • The representation of female superheroes in print and visual media – in comics, comix, graphic novels, novels, short stories, fan fiction, film, television, and other media forms
  • Distribution of narratives and images of female superheroes across multiple genres and media platforms
  • The female hero quest
  • Deconstructing the superhero trope – studies in feminism, patriotism, politics, race, satire, comedy, and so on
  • Constructs of the female supervillain
  • Superhero fashions, including costumes, cosplay and sartorial signifiers
  • Female collaboration in comics
  • Female comics artists: historical and contemporary
  • Female comics audiences and fan communities
  • Analysis of the institutional, commercial and licensing histories of female superhero properties
  • The construction of powerful women in fantasy and science fiction genres

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words, accompanied by a brief bio, by emailed attachment to Dr Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario, The deadline for abstracts is 11 April, 2011.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


It's been a whole month since my last post. I've been busy, but hopefully things are settling down a bit now. I've started my new course, the Master of Information Studies (Librarianship) at Charles Sturt University, and work's been taking off as we get prepared for first semester. I'm off work next week, though, because I'm getting my wisdom teeth extracted (eek!). If I'm not too doped out on pain killers, and can string a few coherent sentences together, I'll write and post a review of Gene Wolfe's latest novel, Home Fires, which I have just finished reading. For now, I just thought I'd post some photos of the two beautiful Poppets that my lovely wife bought me for Valentines Day.

Saturday Afternoon Reading Poppet and Classic Little Red Poppet

Poppets are the creation of Lisa Snellings-Clark and are sold through her Etsy store, Strange Studios. She has made many different kinds of Poppet and has featured the Classic Little Red Poppet in numerous paintings. Her work has been featured in chapbook collaborations with Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman, Charles DeLint, John Shirley, and Peter Beagle. I absolutely adore the Wolfe chapbook, Strange Birds (DreamHaven, 2006), with its beautiful cover art and two original stories, "On a Vacant Face a Bruise" and "Sob in the Silence." Copies are still available, and the small book is a must-have for Wolfe fans (the two stories it contains cannot currently be found elsewhere).