Book Cover

Gendered Defenders

Marvel’s Heroines in Transmedia Spaces

Edited by Bryan J. Carr and Meta G. Carstarphen

214 pp. 6 x 9
Pub Date: October, 2022

Subjects: Gender & Sexuality Studies
Film & Media
Comics Studies
Cultural Studies
American Studies

Series: New Suns: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Speculative

order Hardcover $119.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1527-2
order Paperback $36.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5852-1
Order PDF ebook$36.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8246-5

Gendered Defenders is a welcome piece of the larger puzzle of scholarship on superheroes and their connections to genre and gender. Engaging meaningfully with intersectional elements of femininity including ethnicity, sexuality, class, and trauma, it elevates superheroines as an access point to a range of issues of importance for modern women.” —Jeffrey A. Brown, author of Beyond Bombshells: The New Action Heroine in Popular Culture

“We need a book like this to help navigate the meaning of some of the most prominent representations of female heroism. Gendered Defenders is a valuable stepping-stone for future post-feminist and queer perspectives on these same characters.” —Terrence Wandtke, author of The Meaning of Superhero Comic Books

Gendered Defenders: Marvel’s Heroines in Transmedia Spaces delivers dynamic and original analyses of how women perform in super heroic spaces. Contributors from a range of disciplinary perspectives—communications, international relations, cultural and media studies, English, history, and public policy—take on Marvel’s representations of women and gender to examine how relations of power are (re)produced, understood, and challenged. Through vivid retellings of character-based scenarios, these essays examine Carol Danvers, Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel, Shuri, Pepper Potts, Black Widow, and Squirrel Girl across media forms to characterize and critique contemporary understandings of identity, feminism, power, and gender.

Collectively, Gendered Defenders challenges notions about female identity while illuminating the multidimensional portrayals that are enabled by the form of speculative fiction. Making explicit the connections between women’s lived experiences and the imagined exploits of superheroines, contributors explore how these pop culture narratives can help us understand real-world gender dynamics and prepare pedagogical, political, and social strategies for dealing with them.


Bryan J. Carr, Meta G. Carstarphen, Julie A. Davis, Rachel Grant, Annika Hagley, Amanda K. Kerhberg, Gregory P. Perreault, Mildred F. Perreault, CarrieLynn D. Reinhard, Maryanne A. Rhett, Stephanie L. Sanders, J. Richard Stevens, Anna C. Turner, Kathleen M. Turner-Ledgerwood, Robert Westerfelhaus

Bryan J. Carr is Associate Professor of Communication and Information Science at University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.

Meta G. Carstarphen is Endowed Professor of Strategic Communication at Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.



Part I   Introduction: Framing Our Starting Places and Conceptual Origins

Chapter 1        Who Has Power, and How Do We Read It?

            Bryan J. Carr and Meta G. Carstarphen

Chapter 2        Too Long a Boys’ Club: The Superhero Industrial Complex and the Marvel Heroine

            Bryan J. Carr

Chapter 3        Trans/Linear Feminism: Finding a New Space to Call Home

            Meta G. Carstarphen

Part II  Phenomenal Women: Gender and Feminism

Chapter 4        Marvel’s Carol Danvers: Evolving Past the Second-Wave Feminist Icon

            J. Richard Stevens and Anna C. Turner

Chapter 5        “I Know My Value”: The Standpoint Evolution of Agent Carter as a Transmedia and Transgenerational Feminist

            Kathleen M. Turner-Ledgerwood

Chapter 6        Jessica Jones: A Superhero, Unadorned

            Amanda K. Kehrberg

Part III Embodied Power: Otherness, the Body, and the Superheroine

Chapter 7        “Don’t Scare Me Like That, Colonizer!”: Black Panther’s Shuri through a Postcolonial Feminist Lens

            Rachel Grant

Chapter 8        Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel, Islamic Feminism, and a Global Dialogue

            Maryanne A. Rhett

Chapter 9        “Misty” Knight: Dialogue with a Black Pearl in the Ivory Tower

            Stephanie L. Sanders

Part IV Answering the Call: Marvel Superheroines as Responses to Cultural Change

Chapter 10      Part of the Team Yet Always Apart: Black Widow through Multiple Marvel Series

            Julie A. Davis and Robert Westerfelhaus

Chapter 11      Pepper Potts: Performance as Partner, Professional, CEO, and Superhero

            Mildred F. Perreault and Gregory P. Perreault

Chapter 12      Eating Nuts, Kicking Butts, and Becoming a Feminist Icon: Squirrel Girl’s Subversion, Commodification, and Fractured Feminist Nature

            CarrieLynn D. Reinhard

Chapter 13      Symptoms or Resistance? The Feminist Trauma Theory Framework in Captain Marvel

            Annika Hagley

List of Contributors


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