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Lois Lane : an analysis of a female character in American superhero comics

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Lois Lane : an analysis of a female character in American superhero comics

Gil Martínez, Alicia Lidia
 
DATE : 2016-02-01
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER : http://hdl.handle.net/11093/640
UNESCO SUBJECT : 6309.09 Posición Social de la Mujer ; 6202.01 Crítica de Textos
DOCUMENT TYPE : doctoralThesis

ABSTRACT :

With this study we have been focusing on the status of Lois Lane as a female character in Superman comics stories, and through this, we have had an overall view of American society's perception of the role of women over the twenty years of American history that span the comic books selected. Specifically, this study consists in a feminist semiotic analysis of the fictional character Lois Lane in eighteen comic books chosen between DC Comics publishing company's two cosmic crises in its fictional universe, which took place in 1985 and 2005. Our design for this inquiry followed the usual working approach from a general literature review and a general framework to a feminist viewpoint for the analysis of the selected comics starred by our focal fictional character Lois Lane. Therefore, in Chapter One we reviewed the most relevant literature available about comics; then, we turned to the feminist approach to the study of comics; and finally, the last part of our literature review specifically focused on comics character Lois Lane. In Chapter Two we dealt with the theoretical ... [+]
With this study we have been focusing on the status of Lois Lane as a female character in Superman comics stories, and through this, we have had an overall view of American society's perception of the role of women over the twenty years of American history that span the comic books selected. Specifically, this study consists in a feminist semiotic analysis of the fictional character Lois Lane in eighteen comic books chosen between DC Comics publishing company's two cosmic crises in its fictional universe, which took place in 1985 and 2005. Our design for this inquiry followed the usual working approach from a general literature review and a general framework to a feminist viewpoint for the analysis of the selected comics starred by our focal fictional character Lois Lane. Therefore, in Chapter One we reviewed the most relevant literature available about comics; then, we turned to the feminist approach to the study of comics; and finally, the last part of our literature review specifically focused on comics character Lois Lane. In Chapter Two we dealt with the theoretical framework for comics studies and feminist analysis. Thus, we discussed the definition of comics, their characteristics, the relationship between comics and other languages, the classification of comics, but the bulk of the chapter is the section on the language of comics. In the last part of the chapter, we revisited our basic ideas of feminism, and particularly and more extensively, feminist criticism and analysis. The historical overview in Chapter Three encompassed a history of comics from antecedents in the history of painting and writing, the proto-comics in Europe, up to the modern idea of comic strips at the turn of the twentieth century in the United States. After all these developments, a comics industry started with the final appearance of comic books. Lastly, we ended the chapter with the concrete historical creation of Superman and Lois Lane by the two adolescents Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and the subsequent evolution of DC Comics. Chapter Four reviews all the extra-textual aspects we worked on so far; that is to say, the contexts of production and reception of the comics under study. To this we added some work on the superhero genre; and then, we saw some specific feminist tools to analyze comics, with the caveat that some of them are not academic in origin. The most important part of the chapter comes next with the in-depth examination of direct and indirect sexism, which provided the tools to work on the feminist analysis of texts, and finally, the semiotic tools, in order to examine images with a genre-based approach. The last section of the chapter is devoted to the parameters used to select the corpus for analysis. The last chapter has all the analyses of the eighteen stories selected covering the twenty-year range we set to analyze. The analyses include an introduction dealing with the comics artists and writers that created the comics stories, and also their paratexts, and intertexts, if applicable. Apart from these, as most of the stories belonged in rather long narrative arcs, or were parts of miniseries, also in the introduction to the analyses, we had to present the plot lines sometimes before or after the comics stories under study, in order to have the appropriate background. To conclude, the analyses indicated that even with some inconsistent sexist images and remarks, on the whole, the character seems to live up to the ideals of feminism, since comics creators, for their most part male, appeared to have made real efforts to show a powerful woman dealing with an unearthly situation as it is to have a relationship with a being as different from ordinary life as can be imagined. She may be said to serve as a link between these two worlds, and as such, Lois Lane remains an appealing female comics character worthy of further study. [-]

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