Seminar | Creating “new normals” within Black womanhood and disability in Marvel Comics’s Misty Knight


6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

HS436 & VooV (Tencent Meetings)


DATE: Monday, 27 November 2023

TIME: 18:00-19:30
VENUE: HS436 & VooV (Tencent Meetings)
SPEAKER: Grace D. Gipson Virginia Commonwealth University
MODERATOR: Dr Marco Pellitteri


Given the scarcity of Black women and disabled protagonists in the popular arts and media, representations are significant, as visualizing such figures contributes to their social normalization: it un-others them, respects their identity, and potentially destigmatizes their perceived otherness.
This talk advocates for positioning disability as an empowering quality (not a weakness) through an exploration of the Marvel Comics character Misty Knight. Despite recent scholarship on comics and disability, discourses surrounding race and gender, specifically those featuring Black female characters, are not as prevalent. In particular, Misty Knight’s story arcs in Marvel’s comic books and television productions provide a framework that disrupts the argument according to which “female, disabled and dark bodies are supposed to be dependent, incomplete, vulnerable, and incompetent [...] portrayed as helpless [...] and weak” (Garland-Thomson 1997: 26). Depicting disability, from a Black woman’s point of view, as a part of one’s identity helps to humanize the character’s narrative and potentially re-situate the gaze. My emphasis on the above conversations is explored primarily through Misty Knight’s portrayals in the comic book series Daughters of the Dragon (2005-6) and Secret Love: Misty and Danny Forever (2015) and her appearances in the Disney+ Luke Cage television series, which explores layered experiences and encounters with disability from the emotional and physical standpoints.
Each transmedia narrative offers a different representation and perception of how we understand race, gender, and disability through comics as an often neglected, yet potent media form.



Grace D. Gipson is an assistant professor of African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, Virginia, USA), where she teaches courses on African American Studies, Blackness in pop culture, and Black storytelling in television and film. Dr Gipson received her Ph.D. in African American Studies with a designated emphasis in new media from the University of California Berkeley. Her research interests center around Black pop culture, digital humanities, the intersections of race and gender in US comic books and gaming, Afrofuturism, and race and new media.

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