Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Thu, Kendall M., 1960-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Comic books; strips; etc; Masculinity in popular culture; Femininity in popular culture; Superheroes


This thesis examines American gender concepts of masculinity and femininity depicted in six Modern Age superhero comic books. Specifically, it examines how the American gender concepts of hegemonic masculinity, hypersexualized masculinity, emphasized femininity, and hypersexualized femininity are depicted in three Marvel and three DC comic books. This examination found that despite gender differences defined by biological essentialism that legitimates gender inequality, female and male superheroes are much more alike than different through what I term "visionary gender". Also, it examines indicators of gender not previously examined in American superhero comic books. In particular, it examines the text of superhero comic books to demonstrate that language use in comic books is gendered and that female superheroes use interruption as a way to control and dominate male superheroes in conversation. In addition, two viewpoints within the comic book subculture are examined: the comic book readers and the comic book artists. It addresses the readers' interpretation of gender depicted in a selection of images illustrating superhero characters' bodies and it observes the artists' intention in illustrating superhero characters with respect to gender.


Advisors: Kendall M. Thu.||Committee members: Judy L. Ledgerwood; Kristen A. Myers.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


x, 154 pages




Northern Illinois University

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