Ramzi Fawaz: The New Mutants

A book that can show you how the distinct operations, both the form and the content of particular comics, speak to much wider structures of power, identity politics, and social reality...that, to me, is a strong study.
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Ramzi Fawaz discusses his book The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics with Chris Richardson. Fawaz is assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The New Mutants won the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Fellowship Award for best first book manuscript in LGBT Studies and the 2017 ASAP Book Prize of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. His work has been published in numerous journals including American Literature, GLQ, Feminist Studies, Callaloo, and Feminist Review. He is currently co-editing a special issue of American Literature with Darieck Scott titled "Queer About Comics," and co-editing Keywords in Comics Studies with Deborah Whaley and Shelley Streeby for NYU Press. His new book Queer Forms, explores the relationship between feminist and queer politics and formal innovation in the art and culture of movements for women’s and gay liberation. Queer Forms will be published by NYU Press.


These two books single-handedly taught me how to grapple with the fact that "people are different from each other," and that scholarship should account for those differences at the most precise and acute levels. These books also taught me the what the concept of "queerness" can do for developing a truly antihomophobic critique of literature and culture.


This book introduced me to the concept of radical imagination as a distinctly political practice that involves projecting every taken-for-granted idea we have about gender into new and unexpected contexts. It offered me a way of seeing feminism as a world-making project that literally shifts the very frame by which we understand our place in society. 


This remains, to my mind, the single most brilliant study of genre ever produced in contemporary cultural studies; it also taught me how traditionally denigrated genres like horror, pornography, and melodrama can make extraordinary and even radical political claims by virtue of being largely ignored by serious critics. 


Possibly one of the most interdisciplinary, critically aware, wide-reaching studies of comics to be published in the last ten years. This book solidified for me why American Studies and Cultural Studies need to be central to the study of comics. 


The first work of art history to take seriously the interventions of Transgender studies; this books allowed me to think about the ways that form and formal innovation can transmit unexpected and radically new conceptions of gender and sexuality.