The knight is darkest before the dawn : Batman, the United States and post-9/11 gothic

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2016
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My thesis demonstrates how Batman texts produced after 9/11 map the social, cultural and political turmoil of the post 9/11 era, including the political and ethical ambiguity of many official United States responses to the crisis. In this way it demonstrates the use of this popular culture figure and the narratives in which he is embedded to articulate contemporary fears about the aftermath of the attacks, including the concerns about both the possibility of increased terrorist activity in the U.S. and the unease about the strategies used by authorities in the United States to address this social crisis in confidence, including international military incursion by U.S. troops and enhanced surveillance measures. Batman is also explored as an example of the Gothic genre, utilising generic conventions such as the ambiguous hero/villain of Gothic narrative (each the opposite face of the other), the liminal nature of the Gothic mise-en-scene, and the use of the irrational. In each case I demonstrate the value of these conventions in articulating the fears generated by the 9/11 attack and its aftermath, with a particular focus on how the use of these Gothic strategies enables a more nuanced assessment of the situation than the reductive good/evil, us/them narrative familiar from popular media. The thesis also proposes that a ‘post 9/11 Gothic (sub)genre’ has developed that, like the Batman texts, enables the presentation of a reflection on the post 9/11 environment, which is more complex than many popular culture and tabloid journalism narratives.
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