Comics in the Closet

Noah Berlatsky, Artist, Creative Writer, and Critic for the Chicago Reader and The Comics Journal

American comic books are overwhelmingly written by men, for men — they're male genre literature. Thus, they are obsessed with typical images of masculinity —manly men with rippling muscles and inaccessible emotions. As queer theorist Eve Sedgwick points out, however, heterosexual masculinity is by its nature incoherent; it's always trying and failing to define itself against a dangerous and encircling gayness. In the talk, I'll discuss the way in which standard super-hero tropes (the double life, the skin tight costumes, the boy sidekicks) are bound up with the problem of heterosexual/homosexual definition, and, particularly, with dramas of male self-pity. I'll also look at work by Dave Sim and Chris Ware, and discuss how these (respectively) middle-brow and high-brow writers compulsively reproduce their low-brow predecessors' masculine anxieties. Finally, by way of comparison, I'll touch on the very different take on maleness and homosexuality in Japanese comics for women (shojo manga.)

Mondays, 4:00 - 5:15 p.m.

General Classroom GS 119
(South Building)

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For further information: (561) 297-4225