The Politics of Superheroes


Heroes, “The Butterfly Effect” (3.02).

The conference The Politics of Superheroes: Renegotiating the Superhero in Post 9/11 Hollywood Cinema began today at Yale University. It is taking place in a room close to Harold Bloom’s office at the Whitney Humanities Center. I am presenting a paper on the style of Heroes (2006-) tomorrow afternoon. Here is the conference programme:

Keynote Speaker:

Scott Bukatman (Stanford University), “Look! Up on the Screen!: The Poetics of Superheroes”

Panel 1A: Batman Reloaded

Tara Ghai (University of Exeter), “Clown or Terrorist: Depictions of the Joker in Batman Films Pre- and Post-9/11”

Gerry Canavan (Duke University), “Person of the Year: Barack Obama, the Joker, Capitalism, and Schizophrenia”

Panel 1B: “Low” Culture and High Tech

Cary Jones Elza (Northwestern University), “Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?: Technology and Perception in Batman Begins

Jon Hogan (Syracuse University), “Understanding Iron Man: An Examination of the Relationship between Technology and Humanity in a Popular Comic Book Series”

Panel 2: Incredibles +

Ramzi Fawaz (George Washington University), “Eternal Homecoming: Cold War Nostalgia and the Crisis of the Family Body in The Incredibles

Chris Jaynes (New York University), “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Bob Parr: Narrative Discourse and the Post 9/11 Super-hero in The Incredibles

Michael High (Stony Brook University), “The Superhero Film: 9/11, Melodrama, Justice”

Panel 3: Post-Classical Hollywood Action Films

Dan Hassler-Forest (University of Amsterdam), “From Flying Man to Falling Man: Post-9/11 Superhero Narratives”

Ryan Vu (Duke University), “Cinematic Superman and the Ideology of Participation”

Paul Johnson (University of Exeter), “Of Gods (or) Monsters: Superman Returns

Jean-Guy Ducreux (Nancy-Université), “Mirror Effects and Bad Conscience in Superhero Movies Since 9/11”

Panel 4: Alternative, International and Near-Superheroes

Jacob Brogan (Cornell University), “Fantasies of Forgetting”

Emily Perez (University of Southern California), “Twilight: America, Vampires, and the Perils of Self-Hating Superheroes”

Sandra Kang (New York University), “Post Hero or Post-9/11: Chinese Face Superhero with Western Values”

Panel 5: Superheroic Aesthetics and Genres

Sérgio Dias Branco (University of Kent), “Super Style: Heroes and Television Aesthetics”

Marianna Martin (University of Chicago), “In a World Where More is More: Superheroes and Genre Play”

Yoshi Nakazawa (Seattle University), “Inculcating Aesthetics and Slaying Monsters: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Aesthetics in Education”

Communication, Cognition and Media


The lively and august Catholic University of Portugal will hold an international three-day conference on communication, cognition and media in September 2009 at the Faculty of Philosophy.

Scholars and researchers are invited to send proposals on any topic related to media studies, particularly within these research areas: journalism, television studies, advertising, multimedia, interactive media, political communication, organisational communication, sociology of communication, theories of communication, cognition and languages, semiotics, art and rhetoric, and communication ethics.

An excerpt from the conference description:

Over the last decades, cognitive sciences have developed theoretical models that allow us the understanding of essential aspects of cognition, of language and of communication itself. For example, we know from cognitive psychology and cognitive linguistics that people find most categories meaningful in terms of prototypes, not in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. Hence follows the development of typically polysemous radial networks that are grounded upon human experience. From neurosciences we know that the brain does not process visual information in a disembodied way, but instead maintains the perceptual topology and rebuilds image schemas. These offer coherence to radial categories and motivate metaphorical projections of more concrete domains into more abstract ones. It is known that we may conceptualise certain situation in alternative ways and that we do it by means of construal operations such as perspective, focal attention, prominence, abstraction and the figure/ground distinction, well known from studies in gestalt psychology. We also know that communication is not confined to an exchange of information about the world. It is rather a means of cognitively coordinating different perspectives from the subjects of conceptualisation (speaker and addressee), therefore taking into account other minds, ruling and influencing them. It has been recently argued that human cognition is to be understood as situated, synergic or social, being equally determined by social interaction and culture and therefore can not be reduced to neural individual operations.

The aim of this congress is to promote interdisciplinary research on the biological, cognitive, emotional and sociocultural basis of traditional and new media, regarding their impact on cultures, societies and individuals. The congress includes both the perspective of interpretation or critical analysis of the media discourses and representations and perspectives about their production, perception and assessment. We are particularly interested on the following topics: cognitive and cultural models of socio/cultural identities and in social, political, economic and scientific debates, cognitive and cultural models as covert ideologies; structures, cognitive systems and rhetoric in single and multimodal discourses; prototypes and stereotypes in categorization; conceptual metaphor, in its verbal, non-verbal and multimodal appearances; cognitive power of metaphor and metonymy; mental spaces and conceptual integration; gestalt perception; image perception, understanding, structure and meaning; interaction patterns established between verbal text and image; interpretation of multimodal text; preconceptual image schemas and mental imagery; attention attribution; perspective and intersubjectivity; methodologies and techniques of interpretation and production of the media discourses; interaction between embodied and sociocultural aspects of cognition and of communication.

Further information here.

Online Lusophone Comunication Studies


Portcom, the information network in communication studies of the Portuguese-speaking countries (based in Brazil), allows open access to these four noteworthy journals:

Comunicação e Sociedade (Communication and Society), University of Minho, Portugal

Observatorio (OBS*), OberCom: Observatory for the Media, Portugal

Contemporanea: Revista de Comunicação e Cultura (Journal of Communication and Culture), Federal University of Bahia, Brazil

Intercom: Revista Brasileira de Ciências da Comunicação (Brazilian Journal of Communication Sciences), Brazilian Society of Interdisciplinary Communication Studies

Moffat’s Stories and Words


Dr. Who, “Blink” (3.10).

Steven Peacock’s excellent short piece, “Steven Moffat: Time Lord” for Critical Studies in Television is the right companion to David Lavery’s recent post on Steven Moffat.

I have been following the spin-off of Doctor Who (2005-), Torchwood (2006-), but not the original series. Comments like these lead me to think that I should find some time to take a look at it — especially at the episodes written by Moffat.

Relembrar Paul Newman


A Golpada.

Está a decorrer um ciclo na Universidade de Coimbra que relembra a carreira de Paul Newman através de seis sessões — uma delas de A Golpada (The Sting, 1973). Este evento é organizado pelo Teatro Académico Gil Vicente e é mais um exemplo da vitalidade das iniciativas culturais enquadradas pelo Curso de Estudos Artísticos da universidade. Mais informações aqui.

Conference on Media and Sports


An international conference on media and sports will be held in Lisbon, 22-23 January. It is promoted by the outstanding Research Center for Communication and Culture (CECC) of the Catholic University of Portugal and it

aims both at a polyphonic discussion of sports representations in the media and at a reflection upon sports language worldwide. Drawing on recent analyses of sports language from semiotic, linguistic and sociological angles, the event wishes to provide insights into the core issues of Sports Media and Power, Sports Media and Fiction and Sports and Globalisation.

The Mosaic-Screen


24, “3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.” (1.16).

Refractory, a refereed journal of the University of Melbourne, has published my essay “The Mosaic-Screen: Exploration and Definition” just before the end of 2008. I argue that what may be termed mosaic-screen is a technique used in works like 24 (2001-). Thank you very much to Tessa Dwyer, one of the editors of this special issue, and to Professor Angela Ndalianis, editor of Refractory, for their support and patience.

A mention in english. Uma menção em português.



Sad, devastating news. Our colleague Jason Simpkins, 25, passed away at his home in Lakewood, CO, last Friday. Jason was pursuing a PhD in Film Studies at the University of Kent, following a MA in the same subject at the University of Warwick. He was a vibrant, intense person, always interested in the administrative issues of the university and student representation. My sincere condolences to his parents, Larry and Michelle.