Comics News
Understanding Superheroes - October Conference
By Beth Davies-Stofka
September 7, 2009 - 11:48

 University of Oregon hosts Understanding Superheroes Conference October 23-24, 2009, Keynote speakers include Danny Fingeroth, Charles Hatfield and Henry Jenkins and other noted guest panelists.

EUGENE, Ore. -- (September 4, 2009) – In conjunction with the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s fall exhibition “Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The Art of a Superhero,” the University of Oregon hosts “Understanding Superheroes,” a two-day conference on October 23-24, 2009.

“Understanding Superheroes” will offer different viewpoints and insight to the genre of the superhero for enthusiasts and newcomers alike. The conference is free to attend but advanced registration is required. Activities include discussion panels with guest speakers, lectures, and a book signing at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

“Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The Art of a Superhero” exhibition curator Ben Saunders has put together a panel of experts, enthusiasts, and industry-insiders to include keynote speakers Danny Fingeroth, Charles Hatfield and Henry Jenkins.

Danny Fingeroth is an American comic book writer and editor, and ran Marvel Comics “Spider-Man” editorial line for years. He has published the books “Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero,” and “Superman On The Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society,” which is now in its third printing. Currently, Fingeroth publishes “Write Now!,” a magazine about the craft of writing, and also teaches comics and graphic novel writing at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Charles Hatfield is a teacher at California State University, Northridge with the Department of English, and is also the author of the book “Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature,” published in 2005.

Henry Jenkins, professor of communication, journalism and cinematic arts at the USC Annenberg School for Communications and the USC School for the Cinematic Arts, is the author and/or editor of nine books on media and popular culture including “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide,” “Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture,” “Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture” and “From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games.”

Other celebrated guest panelists attending the conference include Kurt Busiek, author of numerous Superhero titles for Marvel and DC Comics and the creator of the award-winning series “Astro City;” Greg Rucka, the co-creator of “Gotham Central,” “Whiteout,” “Queen & Country” and many other projects for Marvel and DC Comics; and Gail Simone, writer on Marvel’s Deadpool, DC’s “Birds of Prey”, the co-creator of “Welcome to Tranquility” for Wildstorm- she is also the current Wonder Woman writer.

The conference will also be welcoming panelists Trevor Dodge, Andrew Grace, Kom Kunyosying, Ramzie Fawaz, Micheal P. Harrison, Jenee Wilde, Beth Davies-Stofka, Jonathan Tanner, Douglas Wolk, Brannon Costello, Corey Creekmur, Dyfrig Jones, Luke Geddes, Nathan Gray, William Kuskin, Harry Brod, Josh Plencner, and Matt Yockey.

Attendees can register at

The “Understanding Superheroes” Conference is made possible by the generous support of the following institutions, UO departments and programs: The Oregon Humanities Center, The College of Arts and Sciences, The Arts and Administration Programs, The Department of Art History, The Comparative Literature Program, The Department of Creative Writing, The Center for the Study of Women in Society, the Department of English, The Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies, The Knight Library- Department of Special Collections, The Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Understanding Superheroes Conference Schedule

Friday, Oct. 23

9 am                Registration:    Lobby, Erb Memorial Union (EMU)

10.30-12 pm    Three Discussion Panels

Panel One        My Best Enemy: The Signifying Super-Villain
With Trevor Dodge, Andrew Grace, and Kom Kunyosying
(River Rooms, EMU)

Panel Two       Queer Power: Superheroes and Sexualities
With Ramzi Fawaz, Michael P. Harrison, and Jenée Wilde
(Ben Linder Room, EMU)

Panel Three     Being and Super-Beings: Existentialism, Temporality, and Eschatology
With Beth Davies-Stofka, Jonathan Tanner, and Douglas Wolk
(Fir Room, EMU)

12-1.30 pm      Lunch Break

1.30-2.30 pm   Collector’s Gallery Talk with Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Comics and Ethan Roberts, Ph.D. (JSMA)

4 pm                Keynote Lecture by Writer/Editor Danny Fingeroth
Disguised As Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero
(180 Prince Lucien Campbell Hall (PLC))

Saturday, Oct. 24

8.30                 Bagels and Coffee.

9 – 10.30 am   Keynote Lecture by Professor Charles Hatfield
What Jack Kirby Did To The Superhero
(180 PLC)

11 am              Writing The Contemporary Superhero
A Comic-Creator Panel with Kurt Busiek, Greg Rucka, and Gail Simone
(180 PLC)

12.30 pm         Lunch Break

1-2 pm             Book Signings at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

2.30– 4 pm      Three Discussion Panels

Panel One        Wearing The Flag: Nationalism, Regionalism, and Race
With Brannon Costello, Corey Creekmur, and Dyfrig Jones
(182 Lillis)
Panel Two       Beyond The Movies: Superheroes and Other Media
With Luke Geddes, Jonathan Gray, and William Kuskin
(282 Lillis)

Panel Three     Secret Identity Politics: Religion, Ethnicity and Superheroes
With Harry Brod, Josh Plencner, and Matt Yockey
(129 McKenzie)

4 – 4.30 pm     Coffee Break

4.30 pm           Keynote Lecture by Professor Henry Jenkins
“The Man Without Fear”: David Mack and the Formal Limits of the Superhero Genre
(180 PLC)

About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest visual arts center for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to Russian Icons and art from China, Japan, Korea, America and elsewhere as well as changing exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in Oregon accredited by the American Association of Museums.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of 62 of the leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. Membership in the AAU is by invitation only. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Contact: Debbie Williamson-Smith, 541-346-0942,
Erick Hoffman, 541-346-3162,
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,

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