While many fans may be looking forward this weekend to Free Comic Book Day or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, some of those with more scholarly leanings may be busy getting ready for the Buffy to Batgirl conference being held Friday and Saturday at Rutgers University-Camden.
Organized by reference librarians Julie Still and Zara Wilkinson of the Paul Robeson Library, Buffy to Batgirl: Women and Gender in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comics is an academic conference focusing on female representation across those genres (and mediums). I imagine a few eyes glazed over with the term “academic conference,” but the panels and papers sound fascinating.
For instance, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer presentation includes “‘What’s In the Basket Little Girl?’ Reading Buffy as Little Red Riding Hood” and “‘A regular kid and her cradle-robbing, creature-of-the-night boyfriend’: The Trouble with Normal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” And the “Women in Comic Books” panel features the intriguing “Feminine Mystique: Superman as Lois Lane’s Alter-Ego in the ‘Silver Age’ of Comics.”
“Women in this genre are often overlooked,” Wilkinson said in a statement. “We are not only interested in bringing more prominence to female roles, but examining more far-reaching issues more critically from a female-focused vantage point.”
Other interesting topics: “Seizing the Wonder from the Women? Birds of Prey and the Patriarchal Hegemony,” “The Evolution of Lois Lane: Tracing Her Journey from Sidekick to Independent Woman,” “Heart, Strength, and Wit: The Companions of Russell T. Davies’ Doctor Who,” “Heroine as Huntress: Images of Female Archers in Comics, Fantasy and Science Fiction,” “All of them wish you were in their bed: Inara’s Sexuality in Joss Whedon’s Firefly as a Tool of Empowerment,” “Bat Cowls and Red-Haired Wigs: Male Approximations of Lesbian Identity in Batwoman” and “Islamic Superheroes?: The Rise of the Muslim Feminist in Comic Books.”
“We have scholars from literature, childhood studies, women’s and gender studies, American studies, Japanese and Middle Eastern histories, religious studies,and the visual arts, just to name a few,” Wilkinson said. “There is the potential for some really engaging conversations that span several disciplines. It is going to be fascinating to be a part of these discussions.”
Attendance is free, but registration is required.