Special Events

Author Meets Critics: “Keeping It Unreal: Comics and Black Queer Fantasy”

Special Events
14 Oct, 2022

Author Meets Critics: “Keeping It Unreal: Comics and Black Queer Fantasy”

A panel on Keeping It Unreal: Comics and Black Queer Fantasy, which is co-sponsored by Social Science Matrix and the Department of African American Studies.

with Darieck Scott

Professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley

Ula Taylor

Professor & 1960 Chair of Undergraduate Education in the UC Berkeley Department of African-American Studies and African Diaspora

Scott Bukatman

Professor of Film and Media Studies in the Stanford University Department of Art & Art History

Video Now Online

Click here to watch the recorded event.

Characters like Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, Miles Morales, and Black Lightning are part of a growing cohort of black superheroes on TV and in film. Though comic books are often derided as naïve and childish, these larger-than-life superheroes demonstrate how this genre can serve as the catalyst for engaging the Black radical imagination.

Keeping It Unreal: Comics and Black Queer Fantasy is an exploration of how fantasies of Black power and triumph fashion theoretical, political, and aesthetic challenges to—and respite from—white supremacy and anti-Blackness. It examines representations of Blackness in fantasy-infused genres: superhero comic books, erotic comics, fantasy and science-fiction genre literature, as well as contemporary literary “realist” fiction centering fantastic conceits.

Darieck Scott offers a rich meditation on the relationship between fantasy and reality, and between the imagination and being, as he weaves his personal recollections of his encounters with superhero comics with interpretive readings of figures like the Black Panther and Blade, as well as theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Eve Sedgwick, Leo Bersani, Saidiya Hartman, and Gore Vidal. Keeping It Unreal represents an in-depth theoretical consideration of the intersections of superhero comics, Blackness, and queerness, and draws on a variety of fields of inquiry.

Reading new life into Afrofuturist traditions and fantasy genres, Darieck Scott seeks to rescue the role of fantasy and the fantastic to challenge, revoke, and expand our assumptions about what is normal, real, and markedly human.

About Darieck Scott

Darieck Scott is a professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. In addition to Keeping It Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics, Scott authored Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination (NYU Press 2010), which was the winner of the 2011 Alan Bray Memorial Prize for Queer Studies of the Modern Language Association.


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