Date of Award

4-19-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Chris Kocela - Chair

Second Advisor

Paul Schmidt

Third Advisor

Michael Galchinsky

Abstract

Although immensely popular with American boys upon his debut in 1938, Superman has gradually lost relevance with the postmodern generation. DC Comics has rewritten the character numerous times in an attempt to regain lost popularity, but the problem lies in an aspect of his character they refuse to alter – his invulnerability. Superman’s invulnerable body was engineered to quell the fears America harbored towards technological progress, but his impervious physique now renders him obsolete. Boys in postmodern America, under the influence of post-Enlightenment body values, now connect with vulnerable comic book heroes whose bodies more closely match their own. This paper examines the sociological reasons for the shift in Superman’s popularity by comparing the body values of 1938 with those of today, and concludes that while Superman might have succeeded as a modern hero, he fails as a postmodern one.

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