media release

Psychoanalyzing superheroes

March 04, 2014

Hilda Fernandez, Associate, SFU Institute for the Humanities, 778.686.4162,
Am Johal, Director of Community Engagement, SFU Woodward’s Cultural Unit, 778.782.8830, 
Kamilah Charters-Gabanek, SFU Vancouver, 778.782.5151,

The human fascination with superheroes is undeniable, but why are they so gripping? Superheroes on the couch takes place at Simon Fraser University’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, on Thursday, March 6 at 7 p.m. and will examine why everyone has a favourite superhero.

A panel of experts will explore how society uses and produces super heroism. From the glorification of PTSD symptoms in Die Hard to the Hulk’s anger management issues, Superheroes on the couch draws on psychoanalysis and critical theory to learn more about the heroes we find so captivating. Panellists include Dan Adleman, Larry Green, Hilda Fernandez and Paul Kingsbury.

Fernandez, co-founder and coordinator of the Lacan Salon, a psychoanalytic study group based in Vancouver, and an associate at SFU’s Institute for the Humanities, will don the superhero costume of Batgirl for her portion of the discussion.

“Batgirl was one of the first super heroines I got excited about as a child. I wanted to be her. I was fascinated by her ability to be both gracious and powerful in the light of danger,” she explains.

Fernandez, who also works as a therapist for Vancouver Coastal Health, will analyze the gender representation of super heroines and their changing depiction in modern pop culture.

“Superheroes have an aesthetic that is both fun and attractive. To discuss why we find them so fascinating, using psychoanalysis and critical theory, is a way to learn more about our relationship with this type of modern mythology.”

The free event takes place in the Goldcorp Centre’s Djavad Mowfaghian World Art Centre, and is presented by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, and Lacan Salon.

The Lacan Salon, composed of academics, artists, activists, and graduate students from across disciplines, was founded in 2007 under the guidance of Fernandez, and Clint Burnham and Paul Kingsbury of SFU.

SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement is based at SFU Woodward’s and produces public talks, community partnerships, and accessible education opportunities.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities

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