Using the genre of superhero/fantasy fiction as a lens, this book examines attitudes toward gender in North American culture and society from the 1930s through the present. This topic would appeal to anyone who studies or teaches the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, or to anyone teaching earlier periods who may be interested in relevant parallels from the recent past. The book would also appeal to those interested in representations of heroism and/or gender in literature, visual art, and film, and to those in the fields of media studies, gender studies, American studies, psychology, sociology, business, and perhaps philosophy and biology.
Excerpt from the author’s introduction (p. 2): “Each chapter covers a different hero, and her circle of allies and villains: Wonder Woman, the Batgirls and the Birds of Prey, Princess Leia, the “X-Women,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel. Through these heroic figures, editorial boards, writers and artists, parent companies, and different audience groups have all struggled over the meaning of gender and how gender intersects with other identity categories, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, and disability. There is push and pull, changing over time through different political contexts and cultural moments, between all of these players and their ideas about what kinds of roles they want female superheroes to perform and why. Each has their own biases and their own agendas; each can learn from the others and be moved as well. Producers and consumers are not necessarily equal in this space, but each enables and constrains the other in different ways.”