[Air-L] Digital Superheroes Call for Papers

Jill Walker Rettberg Jill.Walker.Rettberg at uib.no
Fri Sep 24 00:24:10 PDT 2021

What an intriguing topic for a special issue! In our almost-completed database of machine vision in art, games and narratives<https://machine-vision.no>, we have lots of superheros - superheros are really into using image recognition, facial recognition, holograms and so on. The works aren’t tagged by “superhero” but you could search for superhero or Marvel or browse titles to find them. We’ve only looked at visual data - machine vision - so miss out on a lot of ways superheros use data in general. I was also thinking of how Nnedi Okorafor’s “Lagoon” arguably has superheros (the alien-enhanced people) as does her “The Book of Phoenix”, but there’s a lot less data and digitality in those africanfuturist enhanced humans than in Marvel. (We only found one instance of ma

Anyway, if anyone is interested in using data from our machine vision database to explore superheros and machine vision data (or to use the data in any other way) please get in touch as we would love collaborators and have more data than we can use, and some resources to support such collaborations as well.

And good luck, Sarah and Freyja, with what looks like a fascinating special issue!


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From: Air-L <air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org> on behalf of Sarah Young <smjacks4 at asu.edu>
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2021 9:29:47 PM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org <air-l at listserv.aoir.org>
Subject: [Air-L] Digital Superheroes Call for Papers

Hi All,

This call for chapters might be of interest to some on this list.

The Digital Age of Superheroes: Superheroes and Data

Superhumans have long been leading stars of popular culture, from their
inception as the masked vigilantes of the early 1900s to the recent
blockbuster Marvel and DC film series and accompanying media. With the
recent closure of Marvel’s Phase 3, and the seemingly unavoidable
permeation of superhero genre elements to a variety of visual media, it is
an apt time to look back on the genre’s explosion to prominence over the
last decade.

Following Peter Coogan’s proposal that superhero texts constituted a genre
of its own, the superhero’s connection to nationalism (Dittmer, 2013;
Murray, 2011), identity (Robbins, 1996; Brown, 2011; Easthope, 1990),
mythology (Reynolds, 1992; Eco, 1972), and fan culture (Jenkins,
Shresthova, Kligler-Vilenchik, and Gamber-Thompson, 2016. Brown, 2012) has
been explored. The development of the superhero may be charted through its
engagement in different posthuman expressions (Jeffery, 2016), and focus on
social developments (Gibson, Ormrod, and Huxley, 2015).

In reacting to the zeitgeist, or prevailing focus, of an era, the superhero
has previously fought Nazis, participated in Cold War tensions, and
addressed the careful balance of government oversight and civilian
independence following acts of terrorism and subsequent legislation. How,
though, are superheroes reacting to our zeitgeist, the age of digital
media? How have superheroes adapted to this new world, and how might they
help us understand it and our place within it?

While superheroes as depicted in comics, film, and television are popular
scholarly areas of inquiry, less attention has been paid to the
intersection of the digital and the superhuman. Digital elements not only
provide the tools or backdrops for the superhero, digital pieces can also
permeate and compose the superhuman body. Superhumans can be digital
themselves, their stories are increasingly delivered in digitized ways, and
their use of technology can be prominent features of their superhero
identity (e.g. Iron Man, Batman).

We invite article abstracts on the theme of digital superheroes and their
relationship with the internet and data to form a collection of essays
addressing this unexplored intersection.

We are particularly interested in topics that explore:


   Digital superhumans


   Transmedia/platform superhuman storytelling


   Superhero video games


   Digital distribution of superhuman genres


   Importance and use of new/digital media and digital media aesthetics in
   superhuman genres (how do these effects change the ethos of the super?)


   Superhero fan cultures and the internet


   Surveillance and/or privacy and the superhuman.


   Hauntology of the web and its expression in superhero texts.


   Connection, community, and crisis

We encourage contributions from all disciplines and interdisciplinary
approaches as we aim to address a wide spectrum of angles on this
intersection. Article abstracts of 300 words and a short author biography
should be submitted to freyja.mccreery at york.ac.uk and sarahyoung at arizona.edu by
5pm GMT on Friday 19th November 2021 with the subject line “SuperData”.
Manuscripts of approximately 5000 words will be due the following June 2022.

Many thanks,

Sarah Young

Adjunct Instructor, University of Arizona School of Information
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