UNT to hold Monstrous Women in Comics conference

Harley Quinn and She-Hulk are two of the female characters in comics expected to be discussed at the University of North Texas' Monstrous Women in Comics conference May 25-27.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 13:59


What:          "Monstrous Women in Comics” — A conference hosted by the University of North Texas

                    Department of Philosophy and Religion

When:          May 25-27 (Thursday-Saturday)

Where:        Eagle Exhibit Hall at UNT's Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building,

                    1704. W. Mulberry St., and Room 140 of UNT's Willis Library, 1506 W. Highland St.


Cost:           $5 to $25; free for students with identification. Pop-Up Art Exhibit on May 25 and keynote

                   speaker on May 26 free and open to those not registered for the conference


More information:


                    To register, go to this website. For more information, contact Samantha Langsdale,

                    conference organizer, at 817-705-6164 or samantha.langsdale@unt.edu.

DENTON (UNT), Texas — This summer's highly anticipated movie about Wonder Woman, premiering June 2, will be the first female-led superhero film in 12 years. Movie industry insiders are predicting an opening weekend of around $83 million for "Wonder Woman" — far less than opening weekends in recent years of films starring male superheroes, but far more than those of the few other films with female superheroes as lead characters.

While female superheroes may receive most of the attention from movie audiences and comic book fans, a conference sponsored by the University of North Texas Department of Philosophy and Religion will be devoted to women who are branded as monsters, whether they're evil villains or not.

"Monstrous Women in Comics" will take place May 25-27 (Thursday-Saturday) at UNT's Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building, 1704 W. Mulberry St., and Room 140 of UNT's Willis Library, 1506 W. Highland St.

Samantha Langdale, lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and conference organizer, said some of the comics that will be explored at the conference "were simply made by women, or feature women who get called monsters for simply being women."

"We're trying to think about this label 'monster.' What does it mean, who gets to use it and how does it get applied to women even when they aren't evil?" she said.

The conference will include nine panels of research paper presenters, grouped under topics such as childhood monsters and monstrous childhoods; monstrous women as mothers; female monsters in historical works, such as Grendel’s mother in "Beowulf;" and identity, femininity and monstrosity. The conference will also include research poster presentations.

Heather Williams, a second-year doctoral student in environmental philosophy, will present a poster explaining how Poison Ivy — an adversary and romantic interest of Batman, and a notorious eco-terrorist — represents "the connection of earth and plants to women."

"We tend to think of women and nature being benign, such as Mother Nature," Williams said. "But Mother Nature also includes hurricanes and destruction."

Williams noted that Aristotle once said that a woman is "literally a monster" who is a derivative of a man, and that the idea of a woman being monstrous is, in popular culture, "usually used to degrade her." The word "monster," however, is also a description of power, she said.

"Often, a woman who is ugly is depicted as a monster because she's not fulfilling her role — but Poison Ivy is a monster who is deadly and beautiful. Her lips literally contain poison," she said.

Two conference events will be free to those who have not registered for the research panels. A Pop-Up Art Exhibit from 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 25 (Thursday) will feature art from the comic "Deer Woman." The exhibit will be in the Eagle Exhibit Hall on the first floor of the Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building.

Published and distributed by Native Realities Press for free online and for donations in print, "Deer Woman" was inspired by stories from the Anishinaabe, a group of culturally related indigenous people primarily living in Canada. Deer Woman is a traditional figure in indigenous storytelling known for luring and killing men, and the comic tells her side of the struggle against violence and sexual assault against indigenous women.

The second free event is the keynote address May 26 (Friday) by Carol Tilley, associate professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois-Champaign. She will speak at 5:30 p.m. in Room 140 of the Willis Library.

Tilley is currently investigating comics from the perspective of readers and building a digital archive of materials related to comic book readership and fandom, focusing initially on materials collected from Marvel Comics publications from 1961-1973. She has given numerous lectures in academic and pop culture settings, including Comic Cons in New York and in San Diego.

Registration for the conference is available at this website, with fees ranging from $5 to $25. Registration is free for students with identification, but students must register in advance. A complete conference program is available on this website.

For more information, contact Langsdale at 817-705-6164 or samantha.langsdale@unt.edu.


UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108