Honors Program

Midway Honors, Honors in English

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Phyllis Thompson

Thesis Professor Department

Literature and Language

Thesis Reader(s)

Katherine Weiss, Michael Cody


Throughout history, comic books and the media they inspire have reflected modern society as it changes and grows. But women’s roles in comics have often been diminished as they become victims, damsels in distress, and sidekicks. This thesis explores the problems that female characters often face in comic books, but it also shows the positive representation that new creators have introduced over the years. This project is a genealogy, in which the development of the empowered superwoman is traced in modern age comic books. This discussion includes the characters of Kamala Khan, Harley Quinn, Gwen Stacy, and Barbara Gordon and charts how these four women have been empowered and disempowered throughout their comic canon. It rejects the lens of postfeminism and suggests that an intersectional feminism is still needed in today’s ever-evolving and diversifying world. Popular culture must be representative of everyone, and today’s women authors will be the driving force of diversity in comic books.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.