Extended Call for Papers: Theology, Religion, and Watchmen

Editors: Matthew Brake and David K. Goodin

Alan Moore is considered one of the greatest modern writers of comics and graphic novels, and he is perhaps best well-known for the celebrated comic series Watchmen, along with artist Dave Gibbons. Watchmen is not only one of the most celebrated comics series of all time, but in its collected form has been included on lists of the top 100 novels of the 20th century. Taking place at the height of the Cold War in the 1980s, Moore and Gibbons explore a world that is meant to be as “real” as our own, but with one notable difference—superheroes actually exist. Most of these costumed figures are ordinary people, but Moore and Gibbons’ world contains one truly “super” hero—the being known as Dr. Manhattan. This god-like being’s existence alters the trajectory of the fictional world, not only altering the fate of various historic figures (Nixon, for example, never leaves office) but escalating Cold War tensions so that the world sits on the brink of nuclear war.

This volume would cover not only Moore and Gibbons’ original graphic novel but its prequels and sequels as well, including the comic series Before Watchmen, DC Rebirth and its culminating event Doomsday Clock, as well as HBO Watchmen sequel and Zach Snyder’s movie adaptation of the original graphic novel. While numerous volumes have been written about Watchmen, including Watchmen and Philosophy by Mark D. White, Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics by Andrew Hobereck, and After Midnight: Watchmen After Watchmen by Drew Morton, no monograph or edited volume has exclusively addressed Watchmen’s religious and theological import.

Yet to be explored are the embedded theological themes of Parousia and absence, scientific self-realized divinity in tension with religious wholly-otherness, the Sanhedrin’s consequentialism matched against Rorschach’s deontological certainty, idealized justice as a metaphysical challenge to realpolitik necessity, and so much more.  Potential topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Prayer as panopticon in HBO’s Watchmen
  • Fasād and Qur’an 30:41 in light of Watchmen
  • Pharaonic Egypt in the Hebrew Bible and Watchmen
  • Piercing the Veil of Maya: Dr Manhattan, Dharma, Adharma, and the Bhagavad Gita
  • “Grasping for the Wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:17): Ozymandias in light of the Anti-Proverbs of Qoheleth
  • Chance and Time: The Mysticism of Simone Weil’s Gravity and Grace in relation to Watchmen
  • Rorschach, Justice, and the Book of Judges
  • The Dark Nite Owl of the Soul
  • Violence and Sexuality in the Silk Spectre(s)
  • The Liquidator and the Murder of Silhouette in relation to Judges 19
  • “What is truth?” (John 18:38): Rorschach versus Ozymandias over the Fate of the World
  • Does belief in God encourage saber rattling? Evangelicals, apocalypticism, and nuclear annihilation
  • White supremacy and religion in HBO’s Watchmen
  • Free will, predestination, and omnipotence
  • Augustine, eternity, and the experience of time
  • Adrian Veidt as demiurge
  • Apocalypticism and street preaching
  • Can God See the Future? Open Theism and Dr. Manhattan’s heroic turn in Doomsday Clock
  • God is Black: James Cone and Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s Watchmen
  • Apocalypticism in Reagan’s (Nixon’s) America

Contributors will submit abstracts (or letters of interest) with CVs no later than June 15, 2023 to popandtheology@gmail.com. First drafts will be due by October 01, 2023. Final manuscript will be delivered to publisher in August 2024.


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