Final Research Update–Kristi Fleetwood

In the beginning, I struggled to find adequate material on role model studies, but I eventually was able to use a combination of girlhood studies and first-hand accounts about Wonder Woman as a role model to construct my argument for powerless Diana Prince (1968-1972) as a feminist role model for young girls.

My interest in this time period came from the first issue of Ms., the feminism magazine created under the direction of noted feminist Gloria Steinem. On the July 1972 cover, a Godzilla-sized Wonder Woman stormed through a city street. Within the magazine, Joanne Edgar praised this version of Wonder Woman as an irresistible “role model” (Edgar 52), but the Wonder Woman on the cover, the Wonder Woman who would become closely tied to feminism, was not the Wonder Woman within the current comics. The Wonder Woman, drawn in replica from the original Wonder Woman of Edgar and Steinem’s childhood, had been absent from the comics since 1968 when Wonder Woman renounced her title, gave up her super powers, and returned to living among “man” as a powerless Diana Prince. To feminist of this time (and many scholars who have studied her), this meant Diana Prince was incapable of aligning with feminism. However, the evidence of this argument relies on surface level analysis of Diana Prince’s depiction. Using a feminist historical analysis of Diana Prince’s portrayal within the comics, I argue for her portrayal being a blossoming representation of the 1970’s Second Wave feminism.

My paper is doing two things. First, it argues Diana Prince as feminist. Second, it argues that because of this portrayal, Diana Prince can be considered a feminist girlhood role model. Within the second part of my argument, I feel I could have extra data research to bolster my argument. To continue this research further, I would like to get my hands on all the comic books from this time in their original form. There are three main things I want to look at: write-ins, surveys, and advertisements. The write-ins to see what girls, and boys, were saying about the change; I have three of the comics from the period, and not many girls’ letters were being published within the comics. The surveys to see how many girl readers were being polled, and finally, the advertisements to see whom the publishers thought their intended audience would be. I also want to see the circulation data to see if the sale numbers increased in the 1960s as much as people report it did. While DC does not have specified demographic data, the overall circulation numbers can represent how well the Diana Prince era was doing in comparison to the 1950s comics where Wonder Woman was being pulled further into the home and out of her uniform.



For this class, I also worked on revising a second project. I focused more of my attention on my Wonder Woman research, but I have being getting ready to sit down and actually begin restructuring the paper. Currently, it is a literary analysis with a lot of medical backing, but I am transitioning it to focus on close reading for trauma.


Here’s a little abstract of it I did for a conference submission:

In Freud in Oz (2011), Kenneth B. Kidd discusses the intersection of psychoanalysis and children’s and YA literature. He makes a case for the ways in which young adult literature begins to overlap with trauma literature, reading adolescence itself as a time of trauma. He also asserts that in young adult literature the expectations of gender and sexuality are intimately tied to the formation of an adolescent’s interior self. Using Kidd’s research as a jumping-off point, this paper offers a case study of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls. In Wintergirls, the protagonist, Lia, copes with her best friend’s death and struggles with her body. She demonstrates repetitive self-mutilation syndrome as she alternates between anorexia and cutting.

Lia’s abjection (seen in her anorexia, cutting, and dissociation from reality) is couched in the language of trauma. The association between abjection and trauma leads to the formation of Lia’s interior self. My paper examines the ways in which Lia’s repetitive self-mutilation is a search for “control” of the disconnection from herself as well as others. I focus on the external and internal “balance” of Lia’s repetitive self-mutilation as well as the maternal influence on Lia’s abjection.



So to prepare to transition the paper, I’ve been reading resources that can help to support my argument, especially sources on trauma in children’s literature (any sources you can recommend, or think are interesting, even if it isn’t related to this specific paper would be great. I’m finding the trauma studies info extremely interesting, so recommend away). A lot of the sources I have read deal with trauma in association with war zones (a lot written on the Holocaust), but my study is more focused on the more every day type of trauma. And what it means for her abjection to be imbedded in this language of trauma, and how the two interact on this level.

I’m excited to work on this paper over break. I’m trying to figure out how exactly to go about re-writing it. While I have a current outline and have gone through and pinpointed what I need to keep and what I need to get rid of for my current argument, I still think it might be better to go through and re-write it completely, pulling from the old paper when needed.

Hope everyone is enjoying their break!