Mapping Smallville

Critical Essays on the Series and Its Characters


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About the Book

One of the first full-length academic projects on the television series Smallville, this collection of new essays explains why the WB/CW series is important to understanding contemporary popular culture. The essays are presented in four sections covering broad categories: Clark Kent’s metamorphosis to Superman and the influence of his parents and the home; the role of the series’ noteworthy female characters; the series’ representations of the Other, explorations of identity, and the ways in which characters speak to Clark’s own struggles; and audience reception of the series and its position within the Superman narrative universe.

About the Author(s)

Cory Barker is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication & Culture at Indiana University. His writing has appeared in Vox, Complex, The A.V. Club, and other publications. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
Chris Ryan is an editor and social media researcher in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Myc Wiatrowski is an analyst of business and culture and associate instructor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Cory Barker, Chris Ryan and Myc Wiatrowski
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9464-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1751-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Introduction—Cory Barker, Chris Ryan and Myc Wiatrowski 1

Part One: Smallville’s ­Decade-Long Mythical Journey

Mythicizing Clark Kent: Archetypes and Mythic Structures of Smallville—Daniel P. Compora 13

The Smallville Destiny: The Superhero’s Shaping by His Archetypal Fathers—James F. Iaccino 25

“Always hold on to Smallville”: Domesticity and the Male Hero—Bridget Kies 45

Part Two: Powerful Women

Sidekicks or Heroines? The Feminist Successes and Failures of Smallville’s Leading Ladies—Valerie Estelle Frankel 59

Another Way: Tess Mercer as Ethical Hero—Peter Melville 83

Girl Friday Power: Chloe Sullivan and the Hacker Sidekicks of ­Twenty-First Century Teen Television—Tara K. Parmiter 100

Part Three: Bodies, Identities and Politics

Rummaging Through the Closet: (Un)Masking the Signified Other in Smallville’s First Four Seasons—Jonathan A. Austad 115

Kryptonian Encounters: Model Immigration and Superman’s Impossible Dream—Roger Almendarez 132

Bodies as Unreliable Signifiers: The Inconsistency of Smallville’s Character Construction—Daniel Kulle 145

Part Four: Reception

Finding Clark Kent: Sites of Nostalgia and Affect—Gregory Bray and John Patrick Bray 161

“Chlark” Versus “Clois”: Shippers, ­Anti-Fans and ­Anti-Fan Fans—Cory Barker 174

Selected Bibliography 193

About the Contributors 207

Index 209

Book Reviews & Awards

“An engaging collection of essays…deserves a place on the shelf of Superman fans, superhero scholars, and Smallville fans alike”— Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts