Call for Papers: Religion in Spider-Man Comics

Call For Papers: Religion in Spider-Man Comics – A Textual Look at our Favorite Web-Slinger

Volume Editor: George Tsakiridis, PhD

Abstract and CV Due: October 1, 2021

Initial Final Paper Due: March 1, 2022

There are few comic book heroes that rise to the level of Spider-Man. He is the foundation for most of the Marvel Universe and perhaps is only rivaled by Batman in popularity over the past twenty years. There are few more deserving characters for a deeper dive into religion and comic books than our favorite web-slinger. Beyond the popularity, Spidey, as he is affectionately called, has layers of religious depth that invite us to further evaluation. From his beginnings rooted in Stan Lee’s Judaism to his dual-nature parallel in Christianity to the ethical foundations of great power bringing great responsibility, Spider-Man is a perfect candidate for the Religion and Comic Books series by Claremont Press.

This particular volume will take a close look at “religion on the page” in Spider-Man comics. All variations of Spidey comics are fair game for source material, but only the comics (no films, cartoons, video games, etc.). By taking the approach of “religion on the page,” the volume will look to engage the actual ways that religion is presented in the comic books, avoiding scholarship by analogy. While analogical study has value in itself, and is an appropriate vehicle for popular culture scholarship, this volume narrows the scope in order to create a strong textual contribution. It also gives contributors a chance to focus deeply on a comic or series of comics using a variety of textual interpretive methods.

The organization of the volume is set to maximize a diversity of contributors, topics, and eras, so that it contains essays from the various ages of comics: Silver, Bronze, and Modern (For those curious, Spidey is too recent for the Golden Age).  The volume editor seeks to avoid recency bias, but does encourage potential contributors to submit topics/textual studies from any era of Spider-Man comics. Ideally this volume will contain contributions from different series of comics: Amazing, Spectacular, Spider-Man, Spider-Verse, Web of, etc. Though The Amazing Spider-Man is the standard bearer, diversity of comic is important to hear the different voices that shape the vast corpus of the Spidey universe. This diversity also will further distinguish it as a contribution to scholarship in religion and comics.

Some potential categories that are priorities for this volume are (read, it probably increases your chances of acceptance):

-Religion and the Women of Spider-Man: Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, and the Black Cat

-Silver and Bronze Age Comics and Religion

-Religion in the Villains of Spider-Man

-Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism in Spider-Man Comics

-Christian Tradition and Spidey

Abstracts should be approximately 500-600 words and should present a basic outline of your potential contribution to the volume and potential methodology. If you make the initial cut, you will be contacted by Dr. Tsakiridis to discuss and finalize your contribution to the volume. Send an abstract and a CV to religionandspiderman@gmail.com. Final drafts will be approximately 6,000 to 8,000 words, but exact word counts for each article will be discussed at the time of acceptance. You are welcome to contact Dr. Tsakiridis in advance of the proposal deadline to float a potential topic if you are unsure. Early submissions are strongly encouraged.

The tentative schedule for production is:

October 1, 2021 – Call for Papers Closed

October 15, 2021 – Potential Contributors Contacted, Vetted, and Finalized

March 1, 2022 – Drafts Due

May 1, 2022 – Drafts Returned with Notes

September 1, 2022 – Final Drafts Due (this may still require one more round of final polishing)

George Tsakiridis holds a PhD in theology from the Lutheran School of Theology and is a Senior Lecturer of Philosophy and Religion at South Dakota State University. He is the editor of Theology and Spider-Man (Lexington/Fortress, Forthcoming), and a contributor to www.popularcultureandtheology.com (check out his essays on Fleabag and Suits!). He is co-host of the podcast Cheers Weekly, and has been a fan of Spider-Man comics from a young age. He looks forward to your creative proposals!

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