Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Lynne S. McNeill

Abstract

This thesis examines and argues that superhero narratives, beginning with their comic book origins in the early twentieth century, exhibit many of the qualities found in folklore. Furthermore, these narratives not only demonstrate a folkloric evolution across multi-media formats, including printed work, television, and film, but that they fit within classic hero narrative structures posited by various folklore theorists. The hero theories presented by Lord Raglan, Vladimir Propp, and Joseph Campbell, along with traditional folklore patterns of dynamism and conservatism discussed by Barre Toelken, Alan Dundes, and others, support the assertion that folklore can, and does, exist and propagate in the mass media popular culture sphere. What follows is an academic analysis of core folklore elements, as well as a presentation of how these core qualities can be found in superhero narratives, and how the discipline of folklore may benefit from a study of these narratives.

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