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Downtown lecture examines role of disabled in comic books

February 11, 2013

How many "disabled" superheroes can you name? If you have to stop after Professor X, you are not alone. Surprisingly, the tradition of superheroes with disabilities goes back several decades.

Cheree Carlson’s “Everybody Needs a Hero: Imagining Super Dis/Ability” will continue the spring 2013 Humanities Lecture series, which is hosted by ASU’s Down School of Letters and Sciences on the Downtown Phoenix campus. The one-hour presentation starts at noon, Feb. 13 at the University Center, 411 N. Central Ave., room 317. The lecture series is free and open to the public.

“The subject is important precisely because comic books are a kind of text that we tend to take for granted,” said Carlson, a professor in the School of Letters and Sciences. “Although dismissed as something read by either the very young or the very nerdy, they are in fact the essence of popular culture. Their contents not only reflects societal attitudes but the also play a role in shaping them.”

The lecture is part of Project Humanities spring kickoff series, “Heroes, Superheroes, and Superhumans,” Feb. 10-16 to examine what constitutes heroes and heroism in pop culture and everyday life. Covering everything from comics to power struggles, the week will feature conferences, keynote addresses, and film screenings and panel discussions with faculty, students and community members across disciplines.

“Certain individuals and their acts and behaviors capture our attention and seem almost transcendent and beyond the everyday. Whether through behaviors or actions – imagined or real – our fascination with comics, animation, digitalization and technology, our awareness of heroes and heroism lends itself to diverse and impactful critical conversations,” said Neal A. Lester, associate vice president for humanities and arts in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and director of Project Humanities.

“Our everyday lives are full of acts of courage and bravery. Heroism is about doing something for other people. The superhero is the extension of that.”

For more information on Project Humanities and the “Heroes, Superheroes and Superhuman” series, visit

For more information on the spring 2013 Humanities Lecture Series, call Mirna Lattouf at 602-496-0638 or email her at