Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Enfreakment" is a real word

So I finally finished my paper on superheroes and disability. FINALLY. I took an incomplete in the class because I couldn't get it done. I didn't realize how hard it would be to write academically about something I talk about all day, every day, that is a part of my material existence. Both comics and disability are, and combining I realized I had way too much to say to fit in 30 pages and still include enough evidence. I ended up citing way more secondary sources that I originally planned to, because when you want to make a general statement about a character or summarize their origin story, it's much easier to just hit the DC Encyclopedia, even though it not always accurate.

On a fun note, there are certain words that you get to use in disability studies that just make me grin. Like "enfreakment" and "freakery". That would be the process of creating a "freak" (as in side show freak) and the spectacle of viewing and exhibiting a freak, respectively. Also, supercrip, which I talked about a way long time ago when I first started this beast of a project. Then you get the usual academic words that are hip right now: interrogation, subjectivity, embodiment, materiality, discourse.

Lastly there's my favorite thing: transgressive reappropriation. I love transgressive reappropriation. In my opinion, it is the solution to every problem of representation in comics. Except for gay stuff. That might be an overstatement, but it's still cool. What it basically means is reclaiming stereotypical/negatively portrayed disabled characters and finding value in them, taking them back and making them cool. Temporarily able-bodied people have appropriated the images of disabled people in their work, and this is the phenomenon of disabled people taking those images back. (I got this from Mitchell and Snyder's Narrative Prosthesis for any academic types interested. But they didn't make it up. I think they got it froM Garland Thompson. I'm a DS newb so I haven't read all of her stuff yet.) This is especially important for images of disability; there are so many out there, specifically in comics, that creating new disabled characters in order to have "good" portrayals of disability would be excessive. It would be more efficient, and probably more pleasing to fans, to take old disabled characters and use them progressively. (It doesn't really work for gay characters because there aren't any to reappropriate.)

I ended up not talking for an excessively long time about this in my paper either...eventually I got to the point where I had to wrap things up, and an extensive discussion of transgressive reappropriation as well as the iconicity of ability ended up not getting written. Someday they will.

So...the question is, should I post the paper in its entirety here? Some of you might laugh at it in the sense that I have to define "mutant" and explain what the JSA is. I also am not actually sure if I'm right about what I said about Doctor Mid-Nite and I don't want to get shot down. The alternative is re-writing the sections in blogger discourse as opposed to academic discourse for your reading pleasure. Maybe I'll do both. Leave a comment if you have a preference.


Blogger Walaka said...

I'd love to see it.

Walaka, A.A., B.S., M.A., T.H.*


9:37 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Captain Infinity said...

No preference for the format, but I'd be really interested to read it.

4:30 AM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger kalinara said...

Either way sounds good to me. :-) Post it! :-)

2:05 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Don't worry if you got Dr Mid-Nite wrong. That's in style this month.

8:24 AM, March 04, 2006  
Blogger Marionette said...

Only thing I'd suggest is posting in small chunks as I find the longer the post the more people tend to zone out.

Maybe it's just me, but the longer the post the fewer responses I tend to get. Which is always annoying when a snarky comment about a Batman panel gets more comments than an essay about the nature of truth using Wonder Woman as a metaphor that took you weeks to research.

2:33 PM, March 07, 2006  
Anonymous Brian said...

I'd love to see your paper. I'm a grad student in the department of Disability Studies at UIC, and I'm a big comics fan. I've never actually written anything about comics and disability, despite talking about it endlessly.

I just came across your blog via Absorbascon -- wonderful internet luck.

(David Mitchell and Sharon Snyter are professors (and friends) of mine.)

Brian Zimmerman

12:21 PM, March 26, 2006  

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