Imagining identity: Ethnographic investigations into the work of creating images of race, gender, and ethnicity in comic books
Carpenter, Standford Wayne
Doctor of Philosophy
Notions of race, ethnicity, and gender are so frequently essentialized precisely because they are such complex, messy, contingent, contradictory, and fragmentary concepts. As a result, representations of race, gender, and ethnicity tend to mistake the wholeness of the representations for the wholeness of the racial, ethnic, or gendered subject. Just as race, gender, and ethnicity are lived and experienced by comic book creators, so too are they imagined and constructed within the constraints of industry practices. This dissertation examines the representation of race, gender, and ethnicity in comic books through the eyes of comic book producers; a relatively small segment of the U.S. entertainment industry consisting of men, women, and corporate entities that make their living imagining identities and telling tales of adventure and heroism. This dissertation is an intentional and, I will argue, necessary break from more traditional models of media and cultural studies that emphasize consumption, textual analysis, audience reception, and reading practices.