222 pages, 6 x 9
18 color images, 1 table
Holy adolescence, Batman! Robin and the Making of American Adolescence offers the first character history and analysis of the most famous superhero sidekick, Robin. Debuting just a few months after Batman himself, Robin has been an integral part of the Dark Knight’s history—and debuting just a few months prior to the word “teenager” first appearing in print, Robin has from the outset both reflected and reinforced particular images of American adolescence. Closely reading several characters who have “played” Robin over the past eighty years, Robin and the Making of American Adolescence reveals the Boy (and sometimes Girl!) Wonder as a complex figure through whom mainstream culture has addressed anxieties about adolescents in relation to sexuality, gender, and race. This book partners up comics studies and adolescent studies as a new Dynamic Duo, following Robin as he swings alongside the ever-changing American teenager and finally shining the Bat-signal on the latter half of “Batman and—.”
Lauren R. O’Connor explains Robin—as a teen, as a superhero, as a symbol—as a necessary way to understand adolescence in America along the axes of age, class, gender, and race. O'Connor does us all a favor and gives us a way to know how this enduring figure of adolescence fits into the superhero genre, into comics publishing, and into American culture.
In Robin and the Making of American Adolescence, Lauren R. O'Connor deftly demonstrates how various iterations of Robin express contemporary anxieties about adolescence, sexuality, gender, and race. This insightful, engaging study discusses the various ways Batman's sidekick is often kicked aside; it urges us to see how Robin's subordinate position mirrors young people's peripheral status. Robin and the Making of American Adolescence is a valuable contribution to histories of comics and adolescence.
In this engaging account located at the intersection of youth studies and comics studies, O’Connor uses Robin as a lens to look at shifting cultural constructions of adolescence in the USA over time. In doing so she emphasizes the significance of the longevity of the character and the diversity of the individuals who have taken on the role.
LAUREN R. O'CONNOR holds a doctorate in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio and a master of arts in Counseling and Human Services. She is based in Batavia, Illinois. She is a licensed adolescent counselor and studies the history of the American teenager and has published in the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, the Journal of Popular Culture, and contributed a chapter to Uncanny Bodies: Superhero Comics and Disability.
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