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New Faces under Old Masks: Race, Gender, and the Future of Superheroes

September 22, 2015 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

new faces under old masks symposium

Tuesday, September 22, 4 p.m.
Hill Memorial Library

Featured panelists:

  • Conseula Francis, Associate Provost and Professor of English, College of Charleston
  • Jonathan Gray, Associate Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • David Walker, comics writer, Shaft and Cyborg

LSU’s Hill Memorial Library is hosting New Faces under Old Masks: Race, Gender, and the Future of Superheroes, on Tuesday, September 22, at 4 p.m. 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 progressively 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, 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. Costello will emcee the symposium. A reception will follow.

This event is sponsored by LSU Libraries, the LSU Office of Diversity, the LSU College of Art & Design, the LSU School of Art, the LSU Departments of English and African and African American Studies, and the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts program.

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September 22, 2015
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Hill Memorial Library
LSU Libraries
Baton Rouge, LA 70803 United States
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