#CSS19 Sneak Peek: Safiyya Hosein’s “The American Dream: Representation of Muslim Masculinity in the Green Lantern”

Continuing the countdown to the Comics Studies Society 2019 Conference “Comics/Politics,” here is another sneak peek, featuring the work of the new Secretary/Treasurer of the Graduate Student Caucus, Saffiya Hosein. As always, if you’d like to share your work, reach out to the Grad Student Caucus board at gradcaucus.web@gmail.com.

After reading the CFP for the “Comics/Politics” conference, I was inspired to organize a panel that tackled the question of diversity in comics. This was something atypical for me since I normally prefer to submit an individual abstract and leave it to organizers to place me appropriately. But ComicsGate made its impression on me, and as a visible woman of colour occupying a space in comics scholarship and comics fiction, I wanted to do more. I spoke to my colleague, Erika Chung, and she was on board with the panel idea. I reached out to Kate Tanski from Women Write About Comics with the hopes that she could connect me to someone suitable for the third panel member, and that’s how I met Adrienne Resha (vice-president of the Graduate Student Caucus). After many discussions with Adrienne and Erika, we decided that the panel would more concretely tackle marginalized superheroes. And just like that the “Marginalized Representation and the Superhero” panel was born. I’m especially proud that this panel is an all-woman team.

My research interests are somewhere in the areas of Muslim superhero representation and Muslim fandoms. I decided I’d explore the Green Lantern, Simon Baz, in my paper because there simply isn’t much scholarship devoted to him. This is a shame because there aren’t that many Muslim male superheroes and Simon Baz’s storyline was unique for its confrontation of Islamophobia. As an intersectional feminist scholar, I couldn’t help but question how deeply the representation of Muslim masculinities factored into his storyline and I pondered the point that the writer, Geoff Johns, was trying to make about Baz. I’ll be tackling this very concept in my paper, “The American Dream: Representation of Muslim Masculinity in the Green Lantern.” In general, postcolonial feminist scholars have explored Muslim masculinities in their work and have pointed out the numerous stereotypes of Muslim men as violent and hyper-sexualized. They’ve approached this in tandem with exploring Muslim femininities in relation to White saviourism which are often realized in perspectives of the necessity to rescue Muslim women from Muslim men.

Considering the symbolism rampant in Baz’s debut in Green Lantern #0, my paper will also incorporate a semiotic analysis based on research in ideographs. Having written an entire master’s thesis on visual ideographs in political cartoons, I saw many similarities in Simon Baz’s debut. I’m also excited to conduct ideographical research in superhero scholarship as well because I’ve only seen it used in research on political cartoons.

As a Ryerson PhD candidate and a proud Torontonian, I’m elated to see the Comics/Politics conference take place in my university. Toronto is a beautiful city brimming with more diversity and cultural tolerance than I’ve seen in any other international city I’ve been to. There is no doubt in my mind that many will enjoy their time here. My presentation takes place on July 25th at 4:15. Hope to see interested participants there!

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