Critical Paper Prospectus and Annotated Bibliography

For my critical paper I would like to focus on Superman. He is the only superhero that was truly born a hero. I would like to focus on his alter ego, Clark Kent, and how he represents Superman’s view on humanity. Clark Kent is a representative for normal life, whereas Superman represents human potential. Clark Kent is Superman’s alter ego, Superman being the dominant figure. I would like to look deeper into his origin story and his early comics and compare them to another superhero who is first their alter ego, then their superhero self, such as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The argument I would like to make is that Superman does not need the Clark Kent cover. He is a superhero outright, where as Peter Parker is a boy who is then changed into a superhero, therefore the dual identity is necessary.

Annotated Bibliography

Siegel, Jerry and Joe Shuster. The Superman Chronicles. New York: DC Comics, 2013. Print.

-This book of the first Superman comics is helpful both for background on Superman, as well as for evidence as to why I believe that Superman’s dual identity is unnecessary. I want to use a few comics from this book that show the issues of Superman’s dual identities with his relationships with others.

Lee, Stan and Steve Ditko. Amazing Fantasy #15. Web.

-This comic is necessary for discussing Spider-Man’s origin. This will help set up my argument that Peter Parker is a necessary cover for Spider-Man.

Seigel, Jerry and Joe Shuster. Superman #53. Web.

-This is Superman’s origin story. This is crucial for setting up my whole argument. This story will help me show that because Superman is from another planet, he doesn’t necessarily need to cover for himself.

Critical Paper Prospectus and Annotated Bibliography

One thought on “Critical Paper Prospectus and Annotated Bibliography

  1. charleshatfield says:

    Maddy, your topic is of course relevant to our class: the secret or dual identity. I think you need further critical sources, and need to be more precise about what you mean. You point out that, from a strictly logical standpoint, Superman may not “need” his alter ego, but this begs the question, why then does the alter ego persist as a convention, in both Superman stories and other superhero tales generally? Do you think we readers need that alter ego? Or do you think this is a convention that Superman has outgrown, or that does not add anything interesting to Superman stories? I’m not sure what you’re trying to argue.

    A lot of writers, most of them not academics, have tried to figure out why Clark Kent persists despite Superman being superior in every way. Jules Feiffer, for instance, offers some interesting speculation about this in his book The Great Comic Book Heroes, and Tom De Haven likewise in his book Our Hero. And some have commented on the dual identity generally: e.g., Jewett and Lawrence refer to “sexual renunciation and [identity] segmentation” in their criticism of the genre (see The Superhero Reader, page 80). But is it more the contrast between Peter Parker and Clark Kent that you want to focus on?

    Spider-Man/Peter Parker seems like a promising hook, to help your interests pop into focus. Check out the following e-book from the Oviatt, which seems to have promising essays about Peter’s life and identity:

    Sanford, Jonathan J., ed. Spider-man and Philosophy: The Web of Inquiry. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012.

    Here’s another title at Oviatt (though not an e-book) that may be of interest, though it’s perhaps a mixed bag in terms of topic and usefulness:

    Peaslee, Robert M., and Robert G. Weiner, eds. Web-spinning Heroics: Critical Essays on the History and Meaning of Spider-Man. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012.

    I think we should chat about nailing this down a bit. Good luck with the research!


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