Reframing Normal: The Inclusion of Deaf Culture in the X-Men Comic Books

During the over fifty-year history of The X-Men comic books and the numerous stories told within the various series, the mutants have been intentionally written as metaphors for how ethnic, racial, sexual, religious, and cultural minorities are treated in the United States. During that same time, the writers also unintentionally mirror deaf individuals and Deaf Culture in their portrayal of mutants and X-Men. Considering the vast number of stories in existence, I focus on the early works of Stan Lee, Grant Morrison’s time as writer of New X-Men, Joss Whedon’s time as writer of Astonishing X-Men, and Matt Fraction’s time as writer of Uncanny X-Men. In this thesis, I perform a close reading of these four writers’ works and compare them to the history of the deaf and Deaf in America, specifically their creation of a community and culture, use of schools and geography to create space for themselves, and the medical interventions that the rest of the world imposes upon them.

This is the thesis I wrote for my Master of Arts in Popular Culture. I am planning to revisit this and expand it into a book. If you have any thoughts or comments about this, please contact me with them.

Theater’s Metaculture and the Access It Creates: A Hamilton Case Study

I am currently working on my dissertation for my PhD in American Culture Studies. In it I am discussing how the metaculture of Hamilton: An American Musical has changed how audiences, and fans, access theater through its use of color-conscious casting, popular music, and new media.

SuperTropes: Disability and Superpowers in DC and Marvel Comics (in progress)

The superheroes and supervillains in comics, especially Marvel and DC, are not always invulnerable. Many times they are injured during fights, battles, or their origin stories. But, disability in those comics does not appear to work the same way as it does in the real world. Many heroes are brought back to life from death, healed through magic, or use highly advanced technology to go back to being whatever “normal” is for them. Villains, on the other hand, tend to have disability as the reason why they become villains. Either way, the way that disability is represented in comics rarely is realistic.

This book will examine the ways that paraplegia, D/deafness, blindness, and amputation are represented in DC and Marvel Comics through analysis of specific, well-known heroes with each disability, including Professor X, Daredevil, Echo, Hawkeye, and Oracle. I will discuss the problems inherent in portraying each disability in comic books, as well as how accurately or inaccurately the disability is portrayed. Finally, I will address the problem of the hero/villain dichotomy when it comes to disability.

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