Do The Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes

Overview

Brash, bold, and sometimes brutal, superheroes might seem to epitomize modern pop-culture at its most melodramatic and mindless. But according to Ben Saunders, the appeal of the superhero is fundamentally metaphysical - even spiritual - in nature. In chapter-length analyses of the early comic book adventures of Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and Iron-Man, Saunders explores a number of complex philosophical and theological issues, including: the problem of evil; the will-to-power; the tension between intimacy...

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Do The Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes

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Overview

Brash, bold, and sometimes brutal, superheroes might seem to epitomize modern pop-culture at its most melodramatic and mindless. But according to Ben Saunders, the appeal of the superhero is fundamentally metaphysical - even spiritual - in nature. In chapter-length analyses of the early comic book adventures of Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and Iron-Man, Saunders explores a number of complex philosophical and theological issues, including: the problem of evil; the will-to-power; the tension between intimacy and vulnerability; and the challenge of love, in the face of mortality. He concludes that comic book fantasies of the superhuman ironically reveal more than we might care to admit about our human limitations, even as they expose the falsehood of the characteristically modern opposition between religion and science. Clearly and passionately written, this insightful and at times exhilarating book should delight all readers who believe in the redemptive capacity of the imagination, regardless of whether they consider themselves comic book fans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ben Saunders gets at the crossover between psychology and superheroes, and at the difficulties it imposes, in his excellent 2011 book about the intersection between religion and superheroes, Do the Gods Wear Capes?" – Noah Berlatsky

"There have been many scholarly analyses of comic book superheroes recently, most of them thoughtful, some of them misguided. However, arguably the most sophisticated and the most human of these treatments is Ben Saunders’ Do the Gods Wear Capes?’ – Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database, February 2014

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Ben Saunders is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oregon. He is author of Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation (Harvard University Press, 2006) and co-editor, with Roger Beebe and Denise Fulbrook, of Rock Over the Edge: Essays in Popular Music Culture (Duke University Press, 2002).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements \ INTRODUCTION: The Power of Love \ 1. SUPERMAN: Truth, Justice, and All That Stuff \ 2. WONDER WOMAN: Bondage and Liberation \ 3. SPIDER-MAN: Heroic Failure and Spiritual Triumph \ 4. IRON MAN: Techno-Faith \ CODA: Modern Gods \ APPENDIX: Methods and Problems in Superhero Studies \ Notes \ Index

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