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Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero: Metaphors, Narratives, and Geopolitics [Paperback]

Jason Dittmer

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Book Description

20 Dec 2012
Nationalist superheroes - such as Captain America, Captain Canuck and Union Jack - often signify the "nation-state" for readers, but how do these characters and comic books address issues of multiculturalism and geopolitical order? In his engaging book, Superpowers, geographer Jason Dittmer traces the evolution of the comic book genre as it adapted to new national audiences. He argues that these iconic superheroes contribute to our contemporary understandings of national identity, the righteous use of power, and the role of the U.S., Canada, and Britain in the world. Tracing the nationalist superhero genre from its World War II origins to its contemporary manifestations throughout the world, Superpowers analyzes nearly one thousand comic books, and includes interviews with key comic book writers from Stan Lee and J.M. DeMatteis to Steve Englehart and Paul Cornell. At a time when popular culture is saturated with superheroes and their exploits, Superpowers highlights the unique relationship between popular culture and international relations.

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More About the Author

Jason Dittmer is Reader in Human Geography at University College London. Originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, he first attended Jacksonville University, graduating with a BA in Political Science and International Studies. He then attended Florida State University, graduating with an MA in International Affairs and a PhD in Geography. In 2006 Jason won the Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award, in honor of contributions that have generated new interest and opened up new areas of inquiry for political geographic research, for his research on Captain America and nationalist superheroes. In 2011 Jason won the Richard Morrill Public Outreach Award, for an individual who has used her or his political geographic expertise to affect change (in public thought or public policy) beyond the academy, for his textbook of popular geopolitics, 'Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity'. He has been a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics (2011) and the University of Western Sydney (2012). Jason is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) and a member of the Association of American Geographers.

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"[A] novel and provocative analysis about how the figure of the 'nationalist superhero' reflects, consolidates, and propels the nationalistic metaphors and narratives that are inextricable elements of the modern nation-state and of the modern, self-governing citizen... Dittmer's tome is theoretically informed and sophisticated. It makes a compelling case for the position that the ways that a people entertains itself, its popular culture, are fertile sites for analyses of how that people comes to know itself and others. Summing Up: Highly recommended."--Choice

About the Author

Jason Dittmer is Reader in Human Geography at University College London. He is also author of "Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity "and coeditor (with Tristan Sturm) of "Mapping the End Times: American Evangelical Geopolitics and Apocalyptic Visions."

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captain my Captain 18 Aug 2013
By Ian Gordon - Published on
The great strength of this book is that it shows how comic book creators negotiate tricky questions of ideology and nationalism over long period of time. Dittmer's Captain America finds new ways of asserting his nationalist identity over the years both responding to crisis, say Watergate, and triumph. Superhero comics may have faintly ridiculous plot lines especially when read over many years, but Dittmer does a great job of unpacking stories for the ways in which they construct identity without getting over involved in the minutiae. To a certain extent it is the ways that writers mobilize histories, myths, and legends to keep their characters of the moment that lets us see how comics do not just reflect ideology but create it. A figure like Captain America is hugely variegated and Dittmer shows us how that works nonetheless to make him a nationalist superhero.
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