Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jason Pearl

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Heather Blatt

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


comic books, superheroes, queer studies, sexuality, the joker, batman, queer theory, gender, pop culture

Date of Defense



The goal of this thesis is to explore the way heterosexism and homophobia are present in the coding that has created an implied and monstrous queer identity for the Joker, present in many versions of the character over the past forty years. Through close readings of several of the Joker’s most iconic appearances, queer theory texts, and analytical essays on pop culture, this paper will analyze the use of queer signifiers present in the comics and the way that these portrayals of the Joker are rife with harmful and heterocentric perceptions of what comic creators have seen as necessary signifiers for queerness. Additionally, I will be using knowledge gleaned from my own preexisting work with fan and cultural studies in order to talk about the way that this portrayal of the Joker has been developed within fandom/fan communities and how it is continually replicated in superhero media.





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