Master of Arts (MA)
Number of Pages
The comic book became a mass medium during a series of defining moments in twentieth-century American history. By telling and retelling narratives of individual achievement during the Great Depression, and tales of patriotism during World War II, comic books gained a popular audience rivaling that of agenda-setting national periodicals such as Life or The Saturday Evening Post. In the first postwar decade, however, publishers experimented with themes of crime, horror, teen romance, and social satire in ways that provoked a wave of public hostility. Crusading psychiatrists, politicians, civic groups, and religious leaders led a campaign against the industry that revealed much about fundamental changes in American society. The extension of postwar prosperity to adolescent consumers was in the process of creating a youth-oriented market culture that would reshape the central traditions of American consensus. Agitation resulted in an investigation of comic books and juvenile delinquency under the auspices of the United States Senate, and the enacting of a strict censorship code that struck controversial images and stories from the pages of comic books. This "containment" of cultural divisions would prove temporary, but it prefigured the conflicts of the following decades.
American; Books; Comic; Image; Life; Reactions
Mass media; American literature
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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Bush, William S., "Reaction as image: Comic books and American life, 1940-1955" (1997). UNLV Retrospective Theses & Dissertations. 3313.