Date of Award
Honors College Thesis
Andrew Haley, Ph.D.
Mathew Casey, Ph.D.
Sabine Heinhorst, Ph.D.
In 1930, Batman fought the prevailing fears of urban America. With the addition of Robin in 1940, the comics changed to appeal to children and continued to follow the cultural trends of America during World War II and into the Cold War. Fear and paranoia during the Cold War influenced American culture and domestic policy. Anticommunism was ingrained in American social structure and initiated efforts at social containment in the 1950s. American culture shifted to emphasize morality and domesticity, and many Americans actively sought to protect traditional Christian values in their society.
Among the rising concerns, Americans became increasingly worried about children and children’s media. The comic book industry experienced Cold War animosity and campaigns for censorship, culminating in the Comics Code Authority in 1954 (which lasted until 2011). The popular support for censorship was a result of the intense fear that the American people felt during this time and the new emphasis on family and homelife. Batman responded accordingly and the writers changed how they approached violence and gender in the comics. Starting in 1947, the Batman comic slowly transitioned away from the depiction of violence in crime fighting to emphasizing Batman’s detective skills. The women of Batman also experienced changes during this time. They became less complex characters that personified American ideals for women and were criticized when they stepped out of the social consensus.
The comics rejected these American strategies of social containment going into the Bronze Age of comics (1970-1985) after the removal of Robin in 1969
Cold War, American culture, comics, censorship, violence, women
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Cantrell, Angelica, "A Cold War on the Dark Knight: Batman and American Culture 1939-1975" (2022). Honors Theses. 822.