- Assistant Professor
- 7161 Helen C. White Hall
- E-mail Ramzi Fawaz
- Queer Theory, American Studies, Media and Popular Culture, Visual Studies, 20th Century American Literature, LGBT Literature, Feminist Theory, Social Movements and Cultural Politics, Speculative Fiction
B.A., English and American Studies, UC Berkeley
The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (New York: NYU Press, January 2016).
"'I Cherish My Bile Duct as Much as Any Other Organ': Political Disgust and the Digestive Life of AIDS in Tony Kushner's Angels in America," Special Issue On the Visceral, edited by Marcia Ochoa, Sharon Holland, and Kyla Wazana Tompkins. GLQ 21.1 (2015): 121-152. Available here.
"Space, That Bottomless Pit: Planetary Exile and Metaphors of Belonging in American Afrofuturist Cinema." Callaloo 35.4 (2012): 1103-1122.
"'Where no X-man has Gone Before!' Mutant Superheroes and the Cultural Politics of Popular Fantasy in Postwar America." Special Issue on Speculative Fictions, ed. Priscilla Wald and Gerry Canavan. American Literature 83.2 (Summer 2011): 355-388.
Interviews and Media Coverage
"The Difference A Mutant Makes," Op-ed for Avidly, the LA Review of Books blog (January 28th, 2016). Available here.
Ramzi Fawaz and Phil Jimenez in conversation at The Strand Bookstore for the launch of The New Mutants. YouTube link.
My research and writing explores the relationship between popular culture and radical social movements in the modern United States. I am especially interested in the ways that movements for women's and gay liberation, black power, AIDS activism, and the third-world left have used literature, film, and visual media as vehicles for giving voice to commonly marginalized groups like people of color, women, sexual and gender outlaws, and the disabled. I am drawn to the question of how cultural production - the making and telling of stories in various mediums and genres - has been used by these groups to participate in American political life when other avenues of civic engagement have been denied them. In other words, my work asks how reading and writing books, making and watching movies, drawing and interacting with comics and visual art among countless other cultural activities become ways for people to participate in democracy and envision the kind of social and political world they desire, and perhaps might one day bring into being.
My work is heavily influenced by queer theory - the study of the political and social dimensions of sexuality and desire - and often focuses on the cultural production of LGBT writers and artists. In my courses, I work to reconstruct the lived experience of producing and consuming literature and popular culture intended to transform the political commitments of particular audiences; in turn, I encourage students to inhabit the identities and worldviews of creators and audiences whose experiences (which might include being a closeted government worker in the 1950s, a gay member of the New Left in the 1960s, a radical feminist in the 1970s, or an AIDS activist in the 1980s) might seem vastly different than their own. I want us to see how queer literature and popular culture offers ways of understanding people who might appear radically different from the status quo, develops a variety of critiques of that status quo, and articulates the desire for a different world. What that "different world" might be is usually the topic of my courses.
My first book, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics, examines how the American superhero became a cultural embodiment of the political aspirations of sexual, gendered, and racial minorities in the post-WWII period. Specifically, I argue that the transformation of the superhero from an icon of white masculinity in the 1940s and 1950s to a social and species outcast, or "mutant," in the early 1960s, enabled comic book writers and artists to articulate the figure to a variety of left wing political ideals that celebrated the lives and worldviews of those most excluded from the American social order. In an early review of the book, Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz has written that The New Mutants is "A powerhouse one-of-a-kind book! By charting the radical transformations of the comic book superhero in the post-war period, Fawaz brings to light the extraordinary secret history of American Otherness. Truly fantastic."