The Steering Committee
Danny Graydon is an academic, journalist, and author specialising in Film and Comics / Graphic Novels. He joined the University of Hertfordshire in 2010 as a Visiting Lecturer, teaching C & CS on all four of the Screen degree pathways within the School of Creative Arts. In 2018, he was appointed Lecturer for Screen (Digital Animation & Model Design) and, from 2019, the Collaborate Partnership Leader for Escola Britanica des Artes Creativas (EBAC) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. From 2015 to 2017, he handled the film program for UH's cultural outreach unit, UHArts.
Outside of academica, he is a veteran journalist for international media - having previously written for Empire, Variety and the BBC - and a published author. His most recent book, co-authored with Dr Barbara Browning was The Superhero Costume: Identity and Disguise in Fact and Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2015). He is the Founder and Co-Director of The Superhero Project, an annual academic conference in partenrship with the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
Dr Torsten Caeners
Based in the rural part of the Lower Rhein area in Germany, I’m a Senior Lecturer for Anglophone Literature and Culture at the University of Duisburg-Essen, specializing in the field of Popular Culture with a particular focus on Superheroes in Film and on TV.
Graduating in British and American Literature & Culture, and Computational Linguistics from the (then) University of Duisburg, I started working at the newly founded University of Duisburg-Essen in 2004. Teaching courses ranging from Beowulf to Heaney, I was awarded his PhD for my thesis entitled Poetry as Therapy: Contemporary Literary Theory as a Foundation of Poetry Therapy. Since 2010, my academic interests have focused more and more on theoretical approaches and readings of popular culture. Combining this with my life-long interest in science-fiction and superhero stories, I have taught widely on both topics on graduate and post-graduate levels.
Having been a delegate at the first two conferences of the Superhero Project in Oxford, I invited “The Superhero-Project”-Founder Danny Graydon to the University of Duisburg-Essen for a guest lecture on Superman. It was then that we decided to collaborate and re-locate the Global Meetings of the Superhero Project to Germany, leading to a re-launch of the Project with its 3rd Global Meeting in September, 2019.
Apart from enjoying the inspiring work in The Superhero Project and the plethora of professional acquaintances and personal friends this work has brought into my life, I’m currently working on a book on hauntology in post-2000 film and TV, including, of course, superheroes.
Dr Caleb Turner
Caleb Turner specializes in Contemporary Superhero Cinema, exploring how American cultural values are expressed, challenged and reconciled through the rhythmic action and visceral kinesis generated in the spectacular storytelling of these popular film and television franchises. He has chaired and organized Diversity In Industry Online Webinars with Disney Pinewood, Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magi (2020-2021) and careers events with the President of Sony International Pictures. Having presented research papers, given public cinema talks, and participated in discussion panels with industry figures on the superhero-action film, he has also created film courses that focus on Superhero Cinema and Post-Apocalyptic Worlds.
Caleb regularly teaches on courses that include: Introduction to Film Studies, Mainstream Cinema - Genre Studies, International Cinema and Cultural Theory, discussing topics such as: Hollywood Genres, History and Industry; Auteurship; Documentary; Animation; European Art Cinema, National Cinema and Film Movements, Post-Colonialism, Identity Politics, Feminism and other key aspects of film theory, history and critical analysis, as well as essential debates across the discipline of cultural studies. He is also the creator and program convenor of a new industry-focused film MA in Science Fiction and Fantasy at Richmond, The American International University of London.
Mikayla J. Laird
Information and Publicity Manager
Based in the United Kingdom, I am a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, School of Creative Arts, where I also earned my Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Digital Media Design. I tech across both the Digital Media course and our award winning Animation degree. With DMD, I focus my teaching on Teamwork Practices and Storytelling through Interactive Narratives. With Animation, I focus primarily on theory, teaching Structuralism and Engagement with our first years, applying theory to Manga, Anime and Comics with our second years, and finally supervising Literature Reviews and Final Essays with our third years.
Alongside my work with UH, I am also undertaking my PhD under the supervision of Dr Daniel Goodbrey, Dr Steven Adams and Dr Alana Jelinek. My focus is on the implementation and disruption of the perception of time within DC Comics, and how artists and writers have evolved these techniques. My case studies focus on Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis as this is a defined 25 period of time within DC history.
As a former student and assistant to Danny Graydon, my involvement with the Superhero Project began with the 3rd Global Conference, where I presented my first conference paper. Since this, my involvement has grown, and strengthened my belief that Superhero Studies MUST be looked at with as much passion and dedication as film or fine art.
Outside of academia, I have also written for publishers such as Comic Book Herald, Sequart, and the Eisner award winning magazine, Panel X Panel. I have also worked alongside Comic Drake, Nerdsync, Comic Tropes, Owen Likes Comics and Matt Draper on both video essays and the annual charity convention, At Home Comic Con.