The Dundee Law School Seminar Series, the Centre for Creative and Critical Cultures, and the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies proudly present a special guest talk on:
‘Superhero Comics and the Seeing of Law: Masks, Icons, and Legal Emblems’
By Dr Timothy D Peters, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Wednesday 13 February 2019, 1430 – 1600, Scrymgeour 4.08, University of Dundee
Refreshments will be provided
Superhero Comics and the Seeing of Law: Masks, Icons and Legal Emblems
Superhero comics seem at once both the most and least obvious place to undertake a legal analysis. Most, because of their excessive concerns with criminality, legality, justice and the exception. Least because of their overdetermined plots, their incessant hybridity, and almost untrammelled commerciality which leave us wondering whether they can possibly say anything of critical value in regards to law beyond the current dominant ideology. This paper seeks to set out a project on comics, form and the superhero that analyses the way in which the visual (as well as narrative) tropes of superhero comics implicitly and explicitly draw on the visuality of law, whilst also inviting a form of critique of our modern legal visuality. Whether it be through the explicit reference to Justitia and blind justice by a superhero such as Daredevil, implicit adopting of the formal sovereign or legal office by Batman, or simply the figurings of iconic emblemata deployed by the superhero in the form of the mask, cape, costume and other trademarked and highly visible devices, superhero comics are saturated with visual legality. Yet, the very visuality of the comics form also asks us to consider the nature of what it means to see law. For the comics form itself, deployed as a representational medium both mimics and critiques the forms of law and asks us to re-think law as and through visual form. Through an analysis of comics as visual form, this paper therefore seeks to bring together and address two questions: what is that we ‘see’ when we see comics? And is it possible to ‘see’ law at all?
Dr Timothy D Peters is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the USC Law School, University of the Sunshine Coast, an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Law Futures Centre, Griffith University, President of the Law, Literature and the Humanities Association of Australasia and a member of the Arts Research in the Creative Humanities research concentration at USC. Tim’s research has two major focuses. The first examines the intersections of legal theory, theology and popular culture. His second research focus is on theories of the corporation and he is currently examining the history of the corporation from the perspective of political and economic theologies. Tim was a Managing Editor of the Griffith Law Review (2012-2017) and Secretary of both the Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia (2009-2016) and Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand (2006-2016). He is currently an editorial board member of the Griffith Law Review and the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law.