“From Superman to Sana Amanat: Alienation, Assimilation, and American Superhero Comics, 1938 to Present” is part cultural history of the superhero genre and part critical analysis of contemporary comic books featuring post-9/11 and post-Arab Spring superheroes. Both 9/11 and the Arab Spring changed the state of Arab and Muslim representation in American superhero comic books.

Between 2001 and 2011, Sooraya Qadir, Josiah al-hajj Saddiq, Danny Khalifa, Faiza Hussain, Bilal Asselah, and Monet St. Croix were introduced as or retroactively made Arab and Muslim superheroes (Dust, Josiah X, Ibis the Invincible, Excalibur, Nightrunner, and M) in comics published by DC and Marvel. The first chapter analyzes the racialization of religious identity through visual tropes in their origin stories.

Between 2011 and now, Arab and Muslim American creators (writers, artists, and editors like Amanat) introduced Lebanese and Muslim American Simon Baz (2012), Pakistani and Muslim American Kamala Khan (2014), and mixed Egyptian American Khalid Nassour (2015) as Arab and Muslim American superheroes (Green Lantern, Ms. Marvel, and Doctor Fate). The second, third, and fourth chapters are case studies on these post-Arab Spring superheroes. Each case study introduces a theoretical concept: critical color theory, identity pauses, and repatriation, respectively.

Adrienne won a Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Award from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University in support of this work. She wrote about her research trip for their blog.

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