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The Dark Knight’s Dystopian Vision : Batman, Risk, and American National Identity

Title data

Cortiel, Jeanne ; Oehme, Laura:
The Dark Knight’s Dystopian Vision : Batman, Risk, and American National Identity.
In: European Journal of American Studies. Vol. 10 (2015) Issue 2 .
ISSN 1991-9336

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

This essay argues that Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001-02) are grounded in a specific type of anticipatory consciousness that we read as risk consciousness. With their sustained and systematic confrontation of risk discourses, the two graphic narratives can be seen as key examples of what we call risk fiction, that is fictional engagements with and expressions of global risks that are the products of late modernity. Our focus on risk is based on Ulrich Beck’s articulation of “reflexive modernity” and reveals the specific ways in which Miller’s Dark Knight series signals a transition in American national, racial and gender identities since the 1980s. It is our contention here that Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns begins a deliberate engagement with how the sense of global risk shapes social cohesion at the height of the cold war, and The Dark Knight Strikes Again brings this engagement to the twenty-first century. We identify three levels of risk representation in the two graphic narratives: apocalyptic riskscapes, individual risk-taking as edgework, and the staging of global risk in the media.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: Special Issue: (Re)visioning America in the Graphic Novel
Keywords: identity; gender; 9/11; risk; risk technologies; apocalypse; dystopia; graphic narrative; comics; superheroes; nuclear catastrophe; edgework; terrorism; anticipation; uncertainty; frontier myth; crisis; Frank Miller; Batman; Superman; Ulrich Beck; Stephen Lyng
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Professorship American Studies > Professorship American Studies - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jeanne Cortiel
Profile Fields > Emerging Fields > Cultural Encounters and Transcultural Processes
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Institute for American Studies - BIFAS
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Professorship American Studies
Profile Fields
Profile Fields > Emerging Fields
Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 800 Literature > 810 American literature in English
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2015 10:16
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2015 10:16
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/23422