My name is Courtney Bliss and I am a professional geek. At least that’s how I like to think of myself. While working on a BA in Speech and Hearing Science at The Ohio State University, a new minor program was introduced that I felt worked really well with my professional goals: Disability Studies. It was during those classes that I began to learn about Deaf Culture and disability culture, as well as make connections between those two cultures and the culture of the super-being in comic books. I ended up writing a paper arguing that both Deaf Culture and disability are present throughout the X-Men comics in the Marvel Universe.
About ten years after graduating, I started the masters program in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University. It was during those two years that I refined my theory into my master’s thesis, “Reframing Normal: The Inclusion of Deaf Culture in the X-Men Comic Books.” I focused solely on the inclusion of Deaf Culture in the comics initially by Stan Lee and his creation of this group, as well as runs in various X-Men series by three specific writers: Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, and Matt Fraction.
I have continued my work at Bowling Green in the PhD program in American Culture Studies. This has allowed me to build on and expand the knowledge I gained as a Popular Culture student. I am currently working on a dissertation that looks at the metaculture of theater in a case study of Hamilton: An American Musical. I am examining how their use of music, casting, and new media has built bridges between Broadway theater and marginalized communities.
In addition to my dissertation, a project that I continue to work on in my spare time looks at how disability is represented through superheroes in the comic books of Marvel Comics and DC. Specifically I am looking at how D/deafness, paraplegia, blindness, and amputation are portrayed and explained to readers through specific heroes’ actions and lives. It is fascinating to me because this is possibly the first regular example of that difference that a reader has. How accurately and realistically that difference is represented can either serve to educate or mislead the reader, especially younger readers, about how that occurs in the real world.
Like I said at the beginning of this bio, I am a geek. I love to read comics and books of all kinds, watch lots of film, TV, and animation, and participate in many fandoms. I am lucky enough to have found a field where I can turn those interests and knowledge gained from them and make them the subject of my research. I am lucky enough to have found a group of mentors who support me as the aca-fan that I am.