The University Press of Mississippi has published many excellent scholarly works on comics and here’s a new one: The Superhero Reader, a volume of critical essays edited by Charles Hatfield, Jeet Heer, and Kent Worcester with a cover by Dean Haspiel. After reading the description, I’m sold. The book is available now.
The Superhero Reader is an anthology designed for students, teachers, researchers, and anyone interested in superheroes. Its 320 pages offer a core sample of the most influential work in superhero studies. Containing 24 essays or book excerpts written between 1930 and 2011, it gives a cross-section of the most sophisticated commentary on superheroes, and underlines the ways the genre connects with larger social, literary, aesthetic, and historical themes.
The Superhero Reader includes a broad range of material: from pioneering studies of the superhero as myth and archetype, to contemporary political criticism; from comics history to studies of fandom; from writings by artists like Jules Feiffer and Trina Robbins, to the work of public intellectuals like Fredric Wertham and Gloria Steinem. In addition, The Superhero Reader includes works by current academics such as Will Brooker, Lorrie Palmer, Scott Bukatman, and Henry Jenkins.
An ideal textbook for academic courses focused on superheroes, The Superhero Reader will also be of interest to superhero fans beyond the classroom. Among the issues it covers are the history, readership, and aesthetics of the genre; superheroes on film and television as well as in comics; continuity in superhero universes; the impact of particular creators such as Jack Kirby; and questions of identity in superhero tales and within their audiences, including gender, sexuality, and ethnicity.