Photo taken and photoshopped by Leila Nassar.

Photo taken in Cairo by Photographer Hossam Atef Farouk and Antikka Facebook Page.
Lecturer Mounira Soliman introduces an everyman type of superhero; the Egyptian Spider Man. Photo by Leila Nassar.
Soliman reading an excerpt of a book entitled “Al 3osba,”which discusses an Egyptian type of hero that fights against evil. Photo by Leila Nassar.
Soliman presenting an Egyptian deconstructed form of the universal ideal superhero from the movie "BolBol Hayran," that is characterized by his emotional qualities. Photo by Leila Nassar.

American University in Cairo visiting associate Professor Mounira Soliman of department of English and comparative literature introduced a new dimension to the universal comic ‘superheroes’ in her lecture, “Superheroes in Translation: Constructions and Deconstructions,” last Wednesday at Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Hall, Room 1104. Soliman discussed the evolving nature of the traditional superhero, which has long been associated with the American culture. She found that superheroes such as Superman, Batman and Catwoman are all universal heroes that are mere manifestations of the American culture, that do not represent the Egyptian culture.

Soliman discussed aspects that surround her research topic, as shown in the video above. Photo by Leila Nassar.

Lecture attendees learn about the different types of superheroes in the Egyptian society. Photo by Leila Nassar.

The premise of her lecture was to demonstrate her understanding of how superheroes in the modern Egyptian context are taking a new landscape, one that is beyond American borders. Soliman found that over the years, Egyptians moved from translating American comics to constructing comics of their own qualifications. “I came to realize that it is possible to shift focus away from the U.S.,” when analyzing the superheroes in translation, she said. She argued that three elements have remained constant in the portrayal of the American superhero: a pro-social mission, an extraordinary power and a double identity. However, she demonstrated how the Egyptian society has found ways to break away from these integral conventional, American models of superheroes, by constructing heroes that focus on local concerns.

Photo of Spider Man catching the bus. Photo by Hossam Atef Farouk and Antikka Photography Facebook page.

She introduced two Egyptians’ project of appropriating a Spider Man that is “catching the bus, smoking hookah, doing laundry and praying at the mosque,” in an Egyptian context. Photographs of this Egyptian Spider Man were taken in impoverished areas, demonstrating a different superhero genre. This is a reconstructed form of a superhero that is despite being Spider Man, is simply another Egyptian man trying to survive in a city. As Soliman stated, this Spider Man's heroism lies in his ability to “go on living against all odds.” In this scenario, Soliman recognized this form of hero as one with a collective identity, one that relates to the Egyptian everyman. Spider Man’s photo stunts were those of an everyday Egyptian man reaching out to the people who ride the metro for help. Soliman concluded by saying, “I did not need to compare it (photo stunts) to anything,” because they were independent of American reference.

Concluding questions of the lecture's attendees. Photo by Leila Nassar.
Event Coordinator Samira Mehrez and ECLT Professor Tahia Abdel-Nasser discuss Soliman's topic. Photo by Leila Nassar.
Soliman responds to concluding questions and comments regarding the lecture. Photo by Leila Nassar.

Lecture attendee AUC student, Samar Aboulyazid commented on Soliman’s Egyptian everyday superhero. “I think it’s a very good idea, for the Egyptian children especially, to have role models that are facing the same struggles as they are facing, so they can be a good example of what to do and what not to do in their daily lives; but it is going to be very hard to replace the traditional superheroes children have been looking up to.”

Integrated Marketing Communications Student Yasmine Ayoub asks Soliman about her views on superheroes in Marvel Comics. Photo by Leila Nassar.

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