More than Marvel: Representations of Norse Mythology in Contemporary Popular Culture
Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture
54th International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan
9-12 May 2019
Proposals due by 15 September 2018
Myths and legends from the Middle Ages remain important links to the past, and there has been much interest in recasting this material into post-medieval contexts, forging a bridge between our forebears and our modern selves. Creators of our own time have been especially prolific in reviving these stories for new audiences. The tales told of the gods of the Norsemen are one such medieval legacy to find currency today, and they have appeared in a variety of media, including comics. For example, Marvel Comics’ representation of the Norse god Thor has been an important element of its shared world since his debut in 1962, and, in its incorporation of the character into the Marvel Universe, the publisher has done much in the service of Medieval Studies through its widespread dissemination across the globe of a relatable depiction of the Norse Gods and the intricate mythology associated with them. Marvel’s account of Thor and his compatriots has also featured in an array of media beyond the pages of its long-running comic book series, and the recent release of three feature films centered around the Asgardian as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the world’s most popular and prosperous movie and television franchises, has provided additional texts to further knowledge of the Nine Worlds and its inhabitants. Nonetheless, while Marvel remains the most prominent creator of modern tales of the Norse gods, the company does not hold the exclusive rights to this material. Other writers, comics creators, filmmakers, television producers, and game designers have also appropriated the stories and legends of the gods of Asgard and further individuals within the cosmology of the Nine Worlds for their own purposes, yet their work remain relatively unknown when compared to the phenomenal success and reach of Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios.
It is the intent of this session to shed the spotlight on these other examples of Nordic-inspired medievalisms and to bring them into ongoing conversations and debates about the reception of the medieval in the post-medieval world. We are especially interested in the reach of Marvel’s versions beyond the United States and how other approaches to the material engage with, react to, or ignore Marvel’s work. In addition, we hope to include coverage of texts from non-Western media (like anime and manga) that have embraced the traditions of the Norse gods in innovative ways.
Potential Topics: (a good starting point is the “Norse mythology in popular culture” page on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norse_mythology_in_popular_culture)
- The Almighty Johnsons
- American Gods
- Day of the Giants (Lester del Rey)
- Fafner in the Azure
- Doctor Who
- Everworld (K. A. Applegate)
- Gods of Asgard (Erik A. Evensen)
- Graphic Myths and Legends series
- Hammer of the Gods (Michael Avon Oeming and Mark Wheatley)
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys / Xena: Warrior Princess
- The Incredible Hulk Returns
- Last Days of the Justice Society of America
- The Life Eaters (David Brin and Scott Hampton)
- Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (Rick Riordan)
- The Mask
- The Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok
- Norse Myths: A Viking Graphic Novel series
- Odyssey of the Amazons (DC Comics)
- Oh! My Goddess!
- Ragnarok (Myung Jin Lee) / Ragnarok Online
- Valhalla (Peter Madsens)
- Witches of East End
Presentations will be limited to 15 or 20 minutes depending on final panel size.
Interested individuals should submit, no later than 15 September 2018, (1) paper proposal or abstract of approximately 500 words, (2) a 250 to 500-word academic biographical narrative, and (3) a completed Participant Information Form (accessible at https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions) to the organizers at Comics.Get.Medieval@gmail.com using “More than Marvel” as their subject heading.
In planning your proposal, please be aware of the policies of the Congress (available at https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress/policies).
Further information about the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture and its outreach efforts can be accessed at The Medieval in Popular Culture (https://medievalinpopularculture.blogspot.com/).
Of especial interest, the Association hosts sites devoted to both medieval-themed films and comics. These can be accessed at Medieval Studies on Screen (http://medievalstudiesonscreen.blogspot.com/) and TheMedieval Comics Project (https://medieval-comics-project.blogspot.com/), respectively.