Saturday, February 12, 2011

CFP: The Material History of Spider-Man (MLA) (Mar. 5; Jan 5-8)

CFP: The Material History of Spider-Man:
A 50th Anniversary Observance

Call for Papers for a panel at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, 5-8 Jan. 2012, Seattle. This panel will be sponsored by the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives (

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, this session seeks to examine the histories imbricated in this iconic figure. From his Cold War origins in 1962, to his emergence as a symbol of the counterculture, to his commemoration of indelible moments in 21st-century America (e.g., Amazing Spider-Man #477—the 9/11 issue, or Amazing Spider-Man #583—the Obama issue), Spider-Man’s continuing narrative traces/haunts/aligns with US cultural history in provocative ways. This session seeks to understand what is revealed when one follows these relationships through the proliferation of texts — dozens of different comic book series, several television shows, a number of young adult novels, multiple films and videogames, and myriad other adaptations, including a pending Broadway musical — produced over the fifty-year development of this American icon.

Possible areas of inquiry may include, but are certainly not limited to:
  • Cold War technology and the origins of Spider-ManThe liberal consensus and the masked hero
  • Spider-Man and the counterculture
  • Archives and artifacts: Spider-man and the multimedia trace
  • Spider-Man on campus
  • The various Spider-Man comic books as barometers of contemporary culture
  • Spider-Man and 9/11
  • The “Civil War” crossover series and the War on Terror
  • The cultural significance of Spider-Man adapted into other media
  • Spider-Man in the age of Obama
Send 500-word abstracts in .doc or .pdf form to Derek Royal: derek at derekroyal-dot-com. The deadline for submissions is 5 March 2011. Submitters will receive notification of results by no later than April 1.

Please note that all prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than 7 April 2011.

This CFP can also be viewed at the website for the MLA Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives (

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