Men In Tights, Women Who Fight: Gender, Race, and Superheroes
Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Batman, Captain America, Green Lantern, Iron Man, Black Widow--the list of America’s superheroes is long. Comic books, TV, and cinema have long built up the appeal of superheroes, and they remain popular. Embodiments of cultural meanings, social practices, and political imaginaries, superheroes tell us stories about ourselves. Historically, representations of superheroes have been connected to national security and the Cold War, changing gender roles, racial stereotypes, and environmental issues. In this course we attend to gender, race, and sex as they play out in the bodies, lives, and storylines of America’s superheroes. We ask: What can Wonder Woman’s history tell us about gender and sex in the 20th century? How do Batman and Superman differently represent masculinity? And what do superheroes reveal about national identity, cultural memory, and collective hope?
DC Comics. Batman. A Simple Case (#44). 2015. ISSN: 2164-8735. [Please note: This text is available for sale at “Heroes and Villains” at 4533 E. Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85711. All other texts have been ordered through the UA bookstore.]
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Monica J. Casper, a sociologist, is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is the author of several books, including the award-winning The Making of the Unborn Patient, as well as managing coeditor of The Feminist Wire and editor/publisher of TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism.