Monthly Archives: March 2017

CFP: Gender Warriors: Reading Contemporary Urban Fantasy

U. Melissa Anyiwo and I are issuing a call for chapters for a text, Gender Warriors: Reading Contemporary Urban Fantasy, that has been accepted for publication with Sense Publishers as a part of their Teaching Gender series.

Gender Warriors: Reading Contemporary Urban Fantasy
Editors U. Melissa Anyiwo and Amanda Hobson

Call for Chapters
Urban fantasy, a genre that draws from high fantasy, horror, and romance, came into its own in the mid-1980s, but critical work on the topic has been sadly lacking, found scattered throughout texts on related genres. In addressing issues of urban fantasy, there is a recurring theme: the problem of gender. Issues of gender have always permeated the reception of authorship and the definition of genre itself; in this case, it is not enough to just read urban fantasy in opposition to high fantasy but to denote it in contrast to its sister genres of paranormal romance, alternate histories, and steampunk literature. Moreover, the concepts and complications of urban fantasy continue when the genre moves from page to screen. This collection will, thus, examine and clarify several questions: What is urban fantasy? How does the genre complicate the performance and portrayals of gender? How do these discussions translate across page, stage, and screen?

From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Black Widow in the Avengers series and beyond, urban fantasy introduces audiences to female protagonists who appear as independent action heroes freed from the constraints of traditional patriarchy, fighting in traditionally male worlds against uber-masculine foes. In conjunction with the rise of urban fantasy, the twenty-first century has witnessed an explosion of tough, physically strong, supernaturally enhanced women in the popular media—including films, television shows, comic books, and video games making this text a vital addition to a Popular Culture Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Contemporary Culture, Sociology, Political Science, Queer Studies, Communications and more.

Gender Warriors: Reading Contemporary Urban Fantasy, under contract with Sense Publishers as part of their Teaching Gender Series, seeks classroom ready original essays from scholars with PhDs, which explicitly explore the world of urban fantasy. The volume aims to emphasize the constructions of gender and the way these interpretations reify our images of human beings and the ways in which we identify and manufacture the gendered and sexualized Other. We hope to open doorways to discussions about Otherness at the college level, serving as an alternative way to explore marginality through a framework that welcomes all students into the conversation. Thus, we ask that all chapters include a set of Discussion Questions and suggestions for further reading.

 Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Presentations of gender and the performance of femininity and masculinity in the Urban Fantasy Universe
  • Presentations of gender in the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics
  • Reinforcement or subversion of gendered norms
  • Female authorship/readership as genre-defying feminist texts
  • The limits of feminist expression in urban fantasy film (i.e. Underworld Series)
  • Problematizing “the strong female character.”
  • Urban Fantasy as female preserve
  • Liberating or fetishicizing: the warrior woman image on TV (i.e. Alias, La Femme Nikita, Lost Girl, Blade)
  • Girl fighting & social disempowerment: the impact of performing violence in Urban Fantasy (i.e. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kim Harrison’s Hollows Series, Blade)
  • Hyper-masculinity in Urban Fantasy (i.e. Underworld Series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series)
  • Gender blending and the Urban Fantasy heroine (i.e. Underworld Series, Jocelynn Drake’s Dark Days Series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series)
  • Sexual violence or threat of sexual violence as a plot device: the shifting use and portrayal of sexual violence, particularly the rape narrative within Urban Fantasy (i.e. Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson Series, Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series, Kim Harrison’s Hallows Series, Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series)
  • Male voices in Urban Fantasy: the limits of representation in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles)
  • Gendering fans and fandom in urban fantasy (i.e. Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • The use of gender throughout the history of the genre
  • The gendering of authorship as a function of genre’s reception
  • How gender portrayal in urban fantasy varies between films, television series, and novels.


  • April 30th – Proposals due
  • June 30th – 1st drafts due
  • August 30th – 2nd drafts due
  • 1st – Final Drafts
  • 30th – text due at Publisher

Please email proposals and inquiries to Melissa Anyiwo ( and Amanda Hobson ( by April 30, 2017.

About the Teaching Gender series from Sense Publishers

The Teaching Gender series publishes monographs, anthologies and reference books that deal centrally with gender and/or sexuality. The books are intended to be used in undergraduate and graduate classes across the disciplines. The series aims to promote social justice with an emphasis on feminist, multicultural and critical perspectives.

Please email series queries to the series editor at

Series Editor
Patricia Leavy

International Editorial Board
Tony E. Adams, Northeastern Illinois University, USA
Paula Banerjee, University of Calcutta, India
Nitza Berkovitch, Ben Gurion University, Israel
Robin Boylorn, University of Alabama, USA
Máiréad Dunne, University of Sussex, UK
Mary Holmes, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Laurel Richardson, Ohio State University, Emerita, USA
Sophie Tamas, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Get Out and the Importance of Addressing Contemporary Racism

Now that I have had the opportunity to see Get Out a few times, I feel better equipped to write about it. I will begin by saying that everyone should see this film. (Watch the trailer.) It is an incredibly important commentary on contemporary racism in the United States and it does this through wit, compassion, humor, and a refusal to look away. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, likely best known for his comedy work on Key and Peele, Get Out is a horror film that taps into the psychological thriller/horror genre traditions but does so with some blurring into the realm of comedy. Peele worked with the horror juggernaut Blumhouse Productions. The performances of the actors are truly sublime, especially Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington (our protagonist), Betty Gabriel as Georgina, Lakeith Standfield as Andrew Logan King, and Milton “Lil Rel” Howery as Rod Williams. Get Out has exceeded the $100 million mark, which is brilliant given its production budget was $5 million. This film has had me thinking about it from the first trailer I saw and now having seen it a few times I’m thinking about it even more.

I do want to address the folks who are insisting that this film is a thriller, which is in part the distribution company’s marketing choices (I’m looking at you Universal). But this is largely because there is such a denigration and dismissal of the horror genre as a whole. This is my soapbox moment as a horror scholar, yes. Horror films are not all torture porn and gruesome deaths—though there is nothing wrong with those horror films, I know they aren’t for everyone. Horror films are complex and diverse group of genre traditions that disrupts the everyday and are recognizable as “horrifying” and relying upon physical and emotional violence (see the scholarship of Robin Means-Coleman, Kendall Phillips, and Isabel Pinedo). Additionally, the horror genre has a long history of being subversive and addressing social issues, calling attention to a myriad of cultural problems including racism and sexism.  So I’ll say even if you don’t like horror films, please give this film a chance and please don’t re-genre it as a thriller when you do.

If you have not seen this film, I implore you to go see it and to stop reading this post right now because I’m going to talk plot pieces and I don’t want to spoil the film.

Again…stop reading if you haven’t seen it because spoilers are coming.

One of the key features of the film’s address of contemporary racism is the way Rose (Allison Williams) continually dismisses and deflects Chris’s (Daniel Kaluuya) concerns about race and their interracial relationship. Rose speaks for Chris and places him in danger through her actions when they are interacting with a white police officer without realizing the potential for harm that her behavior establishes. She refuses to listen to his concerns about her family’s reaction to his race because her family can’t possibly be racist…they’re liberals for goodness sake…they voted for Obama and would have done so for “a third time.” I have heard people say this statement (along with I date Black people or I have a Black friend) to disavow the racism and microaggressions they are perpetuating. Rose is the epitome of the white feminist, who refuses to see the need for intersectionality or the long-term issues with racism in the feminist movement. Aisha Harris keenly points out how dangerous white womanhood continues to be in her piece “The Most Terrifying Villain in Get Out is White Womanhood.”

Get Out addresses the insidiousness of liberal racism, specifically the ways in which white liberal folks have created self-replicating racist systems that shut Black folks out of them all while espousing supposedly calls for equality. In Get Out, this takes the form of rich white people literally stealing the bodies of Black people, which the white folks seem to believe is some sort of compliment about the physical superiority of the Black body. It is Hudson wanting to co-opt Chris Black gaze (his photography skills and his “eye” for reality in his art) and supplant his white sensibility and gaze for Chris’s racialized vision (by the nature of his existence as a Black man). This enslavement of the Black body also demonstrates the way in which slavery also crushes the spirit of the individual, living in the “Sunken Place” of degradation and invisibility. In his piece “Why Get Out Is the Best Movie Ever Made about Slavery,” Steven Thrasher writes, “It shows the intimate ways whiteness uses—indeed, the ways in which whiteness needs to use and use up—Black bodies for its continued existence.”

Throughout the film, Peele uses super-focused close up shots of Black faces (only Black faces). Often, in these shots, the faces are off-center in the frame and set at angles to the lens but these extreme close ups of these Black faces center the experiences of the Black folks in the film. One of the moments I was most struck by in this film is the moment Missy (Catherine Keener) hypnotizes Chris, and he is paralyzed (See below). In this moment in Missy’s study, Peele uses this close up on Chris frozen face to emphasize Chris’s humanity and Missy’s monstrosity. The only movement in the frame comes from the tears streaking down Chris’s cheeks, his eyes and mouth frozen open in fear. This is a classic horror film tactic to show terror but also the horrific nature of the monsters our hero is facing…the monster in this moment is the white woman wielding her power and training as a therapist as a weapon. Chris’s face is so compelling and Peele’s emphasis on Chris’s horror while discovering that he was right to be concerned about this visit to Rose’s family. Missy’s monstrosity, her villain status, is established while our audience identification with Chris is solidified.


Get Out is an amazing film that reifies our need to identify and dismantle the insidious nature of contemporary racism—racism that pretends it no longer exists and/or is a “conservative” and “rural” issue. It reminds us that we live in a racist culture that white folks have a responsibility to admit, address, and disassemble. Moreover, it’s a spectacular horror film that is creepy and atmospheric.

I would encourage folks to check out the following pieces if you’re interested in reading more about this film: Graveyard Shift Sisters’ “Get Out: Crafting a Masterpiece from the Horror of Racism,” B. Willis’s “The Most Overlooked and Underrated Characters in ‘Get Out’ Are Black Women,” and Bilge Ebiri’s “Critic’s Notebook: Why ‘Get Out’ and ‘Moonlight’ Are Breakthroughs in Black Filmmaking.” Also check out the Girl’s Will Be Ghouls review of the film in Episode 23 of their podcast.