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The Grid is Not the City: Marvel's New York City and the Imaginative Mapping of Belonging

Authors: Martin Lund*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Comics, Marvel, New York City
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

It is often claimed that Marvel Comics and New York City have a special relationship, but what that relationship consists of beyond the publisher making claim to the city is rarely considered in much depth. Working from the understanding that any representation of the city entails a re-creation of the city from a specific subject position, rooted in history, this paper looks at a number of representations of the same real-world NYC space and argues that in each instance the imaginative mapping underlying and populating the comics we can see rhetorical techniques that authorize and help (re)create or contest hegemonic social formations. Thus, rather than some special relationship between New York and Marvel pre-existing any given comic, a new relationship is created each time a new comic stakes a claim to the city, and each such relationship carries with it its own history that we should never take for granted.

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