Superhero_ines: Rebooted Comics and Trans* Identity

baroness-resin-detail

My article “Superhero_ines: Rebooted Comics and Trans* Identity” is now the first online publication on the rebooted Vector Torque Control. It’s also my academic coming-out as non-binary.

Abstract:

Gender is a discursive and performative construct, and mass media such as comic books play a role in how it is constructed. Problems arise from discrepancies between prescriptive models of gender and individuals’ actual lived experience. Now, in the era of the reboot, comic book writers have the opportunity to change the identity politics inherent within well-known series, reaching a wide audience through iconic figures, and contributing to changing cisnormative perceptions of gender. Comic books are particularly crucially placed in this regard, since superheroes, as established metaphors of otherness, may in some sense already be ‘queer’ figures. However, although important and exciting steps have been taken toward better representation of trans* identities within superhero comics, we still have a long way to go. Drawing in particular on the theory of Judith Butler and Antke Engel, as well as lived experience, this article explores the past and present representation of trans* identities in comic books, and looks with hope toward the future.

[Bonus link for people who are looking for a great mix of upbeat LGBT+ comics: I recommend the SFF comics anthology Beyond.]

 

 

Advertisements

Quantum Fiction! – M. John Harrison’s Empty Space Trilogy and Weird Theory

cats

One of my favourite papers I’ve ever written has now been published in Textual Practice, and it’s Open Access, too!

Abstract:

China Miéville states that since the concepts of Hauntology and Weird are diametrically opposed, only one of them can be attributed to any literary phenomenon at a time. However, those categories are connected by the sublime, a quantum state that can collapse into either awe or horror. I will discuss the exception to this rigorous division, namely the Kefahuchi Tract, the central mystery in M. John Harrison’s Empty Space trilogy. Many instances of Tract activity follow the conventions of a classic haunting. Still, the Tract is characterised as essentially Weird. I will present several ways of reading the Tract. Firstly, stressing the ‘science’ in science fiction, as a black hole without an event horizon, affecting all of reality and preserving old data. Secondly, as a literary phenomenon, a psychological journey. Both approaches are equally valid since the Tract is presented as a quantum phenomenon. It exists in an entangled intermediate state, and only the reader’s interpretation creates one fixed meaning. Moreover, recurring markers in the texts point towards each narrative’s being embedded in an overarching theme that connects most of Harrison’s fiction, which is the notion of secondary-world fantasy literature as escapism – presented in a way that is clearly anti-escapist.

Keywords: Weird fictionscience fictionquantum fictionuncannyhauntologyM. John Harrison.

 

Investigating Weird Portland 2014

1

2This is the last blog post about my American travels, and for me it’s the most spectacular one. I had always wanted to use my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon as an actual tourist guide. And while it was impossible to follow it step-by-step – I have no idea where the self-cleaning house is, am not particularly interested in strip clubs, and the Portland Memorial is closed to the public these days unless you have relatives interred there – I did get to see most of the landmarks and shops and curiosities. I had a Big Wave Hawaiian lager at the Tiki bar mentioned in the book, I found the tour through the Shanghai tunnels (including sinister stories of waking up in total darkness with a hangover and no shoes and the floor strewn with broken glass: they’ve got trunks of men’s boots down there) – and I even had a chance to go to Mount Angel Abbey and have a look at their museum of curiosities. There I found: taxidermied deformed animals (two versions of eight-legged calf!), giant pig bezoars, an “authentic” replica of the Crown of Thorns using thorns from a shrub researched by a quite enthusiastic Franciscan Brother, strange international versions of “imported” Virgin Marys, and the most well-preserved and well-made collection of taxidermied wildlife I’ve ever seen, all arranged in “life-like” poses of interaction and often in combat.

You can find my pictures here. (I’ve deliberately kept my attempted “ghost photography” from inside the Shanghai tunnels; skip the pictures if you get bored by them.)

 

Tiroler Kirchtagskrapfen

IMG_9225-1024x623

“Tyrolean (sweet) church fair pasty” is as close to a translation as I could get. This is also one of my favourite things from my home district. A fried pasty thing with a filling of poppyseed and pears (and rum). And yes, this is the right amount of poppyseed. ;)

Ingredients:

– Dough:

400g wheat flour
salt
50g butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon rum
water (lukewarm)

– Filling:

300g dried pears
1/8 l milk
50g butter (or margarine)
120g sugar
150g ground poppyseed
grated lemon zest
ground cinnamon
ground cloves
1 shot rum

For the filling, simmer the dried pears until soft, then mince. Boil the milk with added butter and sugar, add the poppyseed and let steep a little. Add spices and rum, mix to form a creamy paste.

Combine dough ingredients to form a soft dough. Knead well, until it is silky and smooth. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. The dough should be quite thin (like for cut-out cookies). Cut out circles (e.g. with the help of a big mug or small cereal bowl), put a spoonful of filling in the centre of the circles, then fold into half-moons and pinch the edges shut.

Fry in hot oil until both sides are golden brown, then drain on tissue paper. Serve with a dusting of castor sugar.

DISCLAIMER FOR VEGAN READERS OF MY BLOG: I have yet to try replacing the eggs in this recipe. I might give commercial egg replacer a try. Please bear with me until I have tested this – and forgive the non-vegan post for a change. If you have suggestions that might work, feel free to comment. I’m always grateful for an exchange of ideas.

(Picture nicked from wipptalblog.tirol – where they use a recipe that also has Powidl, an Austrian jam made from prunes.)