American Studies

Ramzi Fawaz - American Popular Culture

The Departmental Citation Winner for 2006, Ramzi Fawaz is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his PhD in American Studies from George Washington University. His first book, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics, published by NYU Press as part of their series Post-Millennial Pop in January 2016, explores how the American superhero came to embody the political aspirations of racial, gender, and sexual minorities in the post-WWII period. Ramzi is a former fellow of the Social Science Research Council and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, which awarded his manuscript the 2012-2013 CLAGS Fellowship Award for best first book project in LGBT Studies. His essays have been published in American Literature, Callaloo, and Anthropological Quarterly. His second book, Queer Forms, which develops a new theory of affect through the study of the cultural politics and literary production of Gay Liberation since the 1970s, will be NYU Press published in Fall 2022.

Area of Concentration Courses

Film 108: Film Genre
English C143V: Visual Autobiography
English 176: Literature and Popular Culture
Sociology C112: Sociology of Religion
English 173: Language/Literature of Films
American Studies 101: 1939


Big Trouble in Smallville: The Rise of the Teenage Superhero in the 20th Century

Ramzi Fawaz’s honors thesis develops a visual history of the teenage superhero in post-WWII American culture. Ramzi argues that the teen superhero became a visual index of key historical crises in the postwar period that were metaphorized in the form of unruly superpowers and biologically unstable bodies, ultimately cathecting particular generational conflicts to the bodies of developing youth gifted with extraordinary abilities.

This thesis reconstructs the historical trajectory of the figure across time while also attending to shifting thematic concerns that run across the period of its greatest popularity. By charting the lineage of the thematic concerns of these texts, the cultural diversity of their characters, as well as the villains, dilemmas, and inter-group conflicts that motivated their narratives, Fawaz unpacks an important historical thread of youth culture that continues to affect our popular imagination to this day.

Profile image of Ramzi Fawaz
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