Creating a Superheroine: A Rhetorical Analysis of the X-Men Comic Books



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This thesis is a rhetorical analysis of a two-year X-Men comic book publication that features an entirely female cast. This research was conducted using Kenneth Burke’s theory of terministic screens to evaluate how the authors and artists created the comic books. Sonja Foss’s description of cluster criticism is used to determine key terms in the series and how they were contributed to the creation of characters. I also used visual rhetoric to understand how comic book structure and conventions impacted the visual creation of superheroines. The results indicate that while these superheroines are multi-dimensional characters, they are still created within a male standard of what constitutes a hero. The female characters in the series point to an awareness of diversity in the comic book universe.



X-Men, rhetoric, comic books, cluster criticism, cluster analysis, heroes, heroines


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