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Standing Orders: Oracle, Disability and Retconning

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Date and Time: 
Thursday, May 14, 2015. 06:00 PM - 07:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Humanities Center, Board Room
Workshop: 
Graphic Narrative Project
Meeting Description: 

This talk by José Alaniz examines Oracle/Barbara Gordon, the most fully-realized and important post-Silver Age disabled superhero, including her identity as a wheelchair-user, leader and hacker; her representation as an at-times embittered paraplegic; and the controversy spawned by the 2011 DC reboot of the character as an able-bodied Batgirl. The presentation argues that Oracle’s career and “disappearance” reflect attitudes to the disabled in the 20th /21st century USA, as well as the limits, paradoxes and politics of retconning in contemporary superhero comics.

About the speaker:

José Alaniz, associate professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature (adjunct) at the University of Washington, Seattle, has published two books, Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (University Press of Mississippi, 2010) and Death, Disability and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond (UPM, 2014). His articles have appeared in the International Journal of Comic Art, The Comics Journal, Ulbandus, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, The Slavic and East European Journal, Comics Forum and Kinokultura, and the anthologies The Ages of The Avengers: Essays on the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Changing Times (McFarland, 2014), The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov (I.B. Tauris, 2011) and Russian Children’s Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2007). 
  
Since 2011 he has served as Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF), the leading comics studies conference in the US. In 2014 he assumed the directorship of the University of Washington’s Disability Studies Program. His research interests include death and dying, disability studies, film studies, eco-criticism and comics studies. His current book projects include "Resurrection: Comics in Post-Soviet Russia," a study on history in Czech graphic narrative, and "Disability in Alternative Comics."

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