Ramzi Fawaz is assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (NYU Press, 2016), which won the 2012 Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Fellowship Award for best first book manuscript in LGBT Studies. His work has been published in numerous journals including American Literature, GLQ, Feminist Studies, Callaloo, and Anthropological Quarterly. His new book Queer Forms, explores the relationship between feminist and queer politics and formal innovation in the art and culture of movements for women’s and gay liberation.
Dr. Fawaz’s talk is titled “Legions of Superheroes: Multiplicity, Diversity, and Collective Action Against Genocide in the Superhero Comic Book.”
“This talk explores how the speculative worlds of contemporary US superhero comics have addressed the problem of difference and human diversity through stories about the catastrophic threat of genocide. I focus on two classic storylines–The New Mutants’ “Soulwar” from 1985 and The Legion of Superheroes’ “Legion Lost” from 1999–that depict diverse teams of teenage superheroes collectively struggling against the genocidal actions of former allies and colleagues. I show superhero comics in the late twentieth century visually presented multiplicity and heterogeneity–in the figure of the superhero team as a kaleidoscopic gathering of ethically motivated but widely divergent actors–not only as a quality of human difference but a set of values that actively work against forms of genocidal violence. In both stories, the desire to obliterate or extinguish life that is different than oneself is linked to the experience of social isolation from friendship, camaraderie, and collectivity–it is loneliness, these narratives argue, that facilitates xenophobia and fear of difference, and friendship and trust that dispels them. Ultimately, I unpack how the visual and narrative conventions of American superhero comics offer fantasies of collective solidarity that exceed the demand for representational diversity that has so strongly shaped recent comics production, and have incredible utility in our political present.”
Elizabeth Freeman is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis, as well as co-editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. She is the author of two books from Duke University Press, The Wedding Complex: Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture (2002) and Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (2010), and edited a special issue of GLQ in 2007, Queer Temporalities. She has published articles in numerous journals, including American Literature, ALH, differences, New Literary History, Social Text, and Women and Performance, and is currently working on a manuscript tentatively titled “It Goes Without Saying: Sense-Methods in the United States’s Very Long Nineteenth Century.”
Dr. Freeman’s talk is titled “Care of the Other: Caretaking Work and Queer Relationality.”
“This talk explores caretaking as a form of work on the self, but not the moral sort that allows for greater self-knowledge and thus expands the self. Instead, I argue that care work involves allowing the self to be deregulated, bent toward others, feminized and racialized, and in many ways disabled. Framing my talk with a consideration of how the United States government is working to re-privatize care work, I track its representations from their most sentimental version in the mid-nineteenth century, through the dystopian imagery of the Gilded Age, into the twentieth century when care work becomes a theme of horror movies, and then into queer independent cinema of the AIDS era, which foregrounds the queerness of caretaking itself—its strange temporalities; its production of non-normatively gendered, racialized, sexualized, and dis/abled bodies; the kinds of alternative kinships it enables; and its reimagination of labor relations beyond both the classically Marxist story of social reproduction and the liberal story of self-confirmation and self-extension.”
OCAD University acknowledges the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnabe and the Huron-Wendat, who are the original owners and custodians of the land on which we stand.