Girl of Steel

Essays on Television’s Supergirl and Fourth-Wave Feminism


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About the Book

The CW’s hit adaptation of Supergirl is a new take on the classic DC character for a new audience. With diverse female characters, it explores different versions of the female experience. No single character embodies a feminist ideal but together they represent attributes of the contemporary feminist conversation.

This collection of new essays uses a similar approach, inviting a diverse group of scholars to address the many questions about gender roles and female agency in the series. Essays analyze how the series engages with feminism, Supergirl’s impact on queer audiences, and how families craft the show’s feminist narratives. In the ever-growing superhero television genre, Supergirl remains unique as viewers watch a female hero with almost godlike powers face the same struggles as ordinary women in the series.

About the Author(s)

Melissa Wehler, a professor of interdisciplinary studies, has published essays in a variety of edited collections on topics including the gothic, feminism, and popular culture, and Coraline, Downton Abbey, Jessica Jones, and Maleficent. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Tim Rayborn is a historian, medievalist, and musician, with a Ph.D. from the University of Leeds in England. He writes on history and on the arts, and lives in Berkeley, California.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Melissa Wehler and Tim Rayborn
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7201-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3937-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

“Our Girl”: An Introduction to Essays on the Supergirl Television Series (Melissa Wehler and Tim Rayborn) 1

Why Not Superwoman? Constructing the Feminism of Supergirl What to Do with Supergirl? Fairy Tale Tropes, Female Power and Conflicted Feminist Discourse (Marcie Panutsos Rovan) 11

The Super “It” Girl: A New Brand for a Classic Icon (Melissa Wehler) 27

Lies, Damned Lies and Relationships: The Deceits and Secrets That Plague the Couples of Supergirl, Season 2 (Tim Rayborn) 45

Supergirl and Lena Luthor: Constructing Public and Private Personas (Johanna Church) 65

Female Otherness and Intersectionality in Supergirl “Pull up your ­big-girl pants, and own your power”: Feminist Anger and the Working Woman in The CW’s Supergirl (Justin Wigard) 85

Krypton’s Rage: Contrasting the Emotions and Powers of Supergirl in Television and the New 52 (Nicholas William Moll) 102

“I embraced who I am and I don’t want to stop”: Queering Supergirl (Jaime Chris Weida) 118

“It’s real, you’re real, and you deserve a full, happy life”: Supergirl’s “Sanvers” as an Affirmation to Queer Tumblr Fangirls Everywhere (Chelsea M. Gibbs) 140

Supergirl’s Sisterhoods: Feminism as a Family Affair Sisterhood of Steel: The Powerful Bond That Is the Heart of The CW’s Supergirl (Donna J. Cromeans) 161

“Women of power and the mothers who molded them”: Matriarchal Mentorship and Symbols of Sisterhood in Supergirl (Courtney Lee Weida) 180

El Mayarah: The Danvers Sisters as Chosen Family (Sarah J. Palm) 199

About the Contributors 217

Index 219