Superheroes and Children’s Culture

Spiderman and Superboy save a Captured Girl


The last two decades have seen an increasing media convergence and the promotion and distribution of popular narratives through cross-media texts. The superhero genre forms an important part of children’s media environments and contemporary children’s culture, in particular for boys. Children are not merely consumers of media texts, they are also actively engaged in a range of activities – fantasies, make-believe play, drawing, writing and other forms of meaning-making – reflecting, expanding and commenting on these media texts. Children as storytellers, players and artists draw upon familiar elements from superhero narratives, to create their own meanings. Children’s ability to move across media platforms and across modes of meaning-making with particular ease, may explain the phenomenal success of cross-media narratives such as superhero stories. The paper provides an overview into different areas of children’s participation in the superhero narratives within and without the context of formal educational settings and provides a longitudinal case study of one boy’s engagement with superheroes in his play and meaning-making activities. The paper calls for a re-evaluation of children’s media culture and cultural practices, including educational practices around superheroes.

Sigrid Jones (2006) Superheroes and Children’s Culture Dissertation submitted in part fulfillment of the requirements of the MA Media, Culture and Communication Degree of the Institute of Education, University of London. Winter 2006

Illustration by Lukas: Spiderman and Superboy save a Captured Girl

If you want to read it all, I can send you a pdf.

5 Responses to “Superheroes and Children’s Culture”

  1. Jo Howlett Says:

    Please could you send me a copy of your dissertation as i would love to read it as i am researching media and the effects on children. Thankyou . Jo

  2. Sigrid Says:

    Dear Jo,
    You can download it from here:

    Would you send me your paper, once it is finished? I would love to read more about your research.
    All the best

  3. Paul Blackburn Says:

    Paul Blackburn…

    […]Superheroes and Children’s Culture « word and image[…]…

  4. Andrea Sonnabend Says:

    Not sure if you are still answering replys. I am working on a presentation about using superheroes in therapy. I love to read your paper on the topic.

    • Sigrid Says:

      Hi Andrea
      you should be able to find the link on my (not very up to date) CV, click the “about” link. Hope that works! All the best. Sigrid

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