#CSS19 Sneak Peek: Alexandra Lampp Berglund’s “Analyzing ‘The Truth’: An Examination of Gender and (Dis)ability in Wonder Woman”

CSS19, Comics/Politics begins in just 10 days! Continuing our Sneak Peek series is GSC Member-at-Large Alexandra Lampp Berglund on her presentation “Analyzing ‘The Truth’: An Examination of Gender and (Dis)ability in Wonder Woman.” We’ll be back next week with the final installment of #CSS19 Sneak Peek!

The 2nd Annual CSS Conference is fast approaching, and I can’t wait to learn with and from so many of you while there!

At this year’s conference, I will be presenting a paper titled, “Analyzing ‘The Truth’: An Examination of Gender and (Dis)ability in Wonder Woman.” As a part of the panel, “Feminist Theory and Contemporary Comics,” I will be presenting my research alongside Jocelyn Sakal Froese and Miriam Kent. Before the conference, I wanted to share my research with you all, including my conference proposal submission and the title slide of my presentation.

My paper began as a course project in the Spring 2018 and has continued to expand and evolve since I began. As a critical (dis)ability scholar and a lifelong reader of Wonder Woman comics, I knew I had to explore many of the poignant images featured in the Rebirth reboot, specifically the seven-part arc “The Truth.” 

I even include one of these images on the cover slide of my presentation, featured above. In addition to the image, I’ve also included the title of my presentation–a title inspired by the title of the arc itself–my name, institution, and Twitter handle. The latter three elements will appear on every slide in the presentation. Below my personal information, I have also included credit for the image used for the background (Wonder Woman (2017-2019) #15 by Greg Rucka). Each time art is featured, credit will also be provided on the same slide, as shown below. 

This will be my first time attending and presenting at a comics conference, so learning these appropriate presentation conventions before the conference from my peers on the CSS-GSC was so helpful (Thanks, Adrienne!). 

To share more about my research, I’ve included my conference proposal below: 

Wonder Woman and the sense of awe she inspires is in stark contrast to typical depictions of (dis)ability. Readers may find it difficult to associate Wonder Woman and her renowned visual representation with stereotypical characteristics of (dis)ability. Yet, one comic sought to change this. With the latest reboot of DC Comics, Rebirth, the creators of Wonder Woman designed a storyline that features Wonder Woman as a patient within Nightsong Hospital, an apparent asylum, crippled with the knowledge of her origin. The seven-issue arc explores the events that cause Wonder Woman’s admittance, her stay, and later release from the mental health facility.

This paper seeks to examine the ways in which (dis)ability and feminist theories intersect within one particular issue of this arc, “The Truth: Part One,” and how different elements of the comic enforce varying representations of (dis)ability and gender. Through the use of line style, panel transitions, and word picture relations, the writer, artist, and colorist collectively have issued a graphic text that visually depicts these conceptions. Additionally, throughout the single issue, repetitive themes and reappearances of certain elements create a sense of related narrative elements or general arthrology (Groensteen, 1999) that further assert a complex depiction of (dis)ability and gender. Throughout the presentation, these elements of the comic will be analyzed and critiqued using the feminist theory of (dis)ability to explore the myriad ways the creators have sought to portray the lived experiences of both (dis)ability and femininity.

My presentation is on Friday (full program). Come say hi, and let’s chat about Wonder Woman!

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