Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Applied Communication Theory and Methodology



First Advisor

Lieberman, Evan

Subject Headings

Communication, Cultural Anthropology, Film Studies


The Flash Gordon (Stephani, 1936) serial is a profoundly important, indeed seminal superhero film that has not been granted the critical attention that it deserves within modern film scholarship. Its position at the beginning of the genre of the modern screen superhero is examined through its evident thematically mythic implications and its culturally centered historical aspects. The serial Flash Gordon is treated and analyzed as a self-standing text that provides clues to the ontological and genealogical foundation and conventions of the screen superhero that is dominant in the media landscape today. This analysis is conducted through the Freudian – Jungian - Levi-Straussian – Barthes – Campbellian vain, which searches for signs in the text to amass evidence of acculturation. It is argued through this extended analysis that Flash Gordon articulated the richly nuanced language of what it means to be a superhero, and further provides us with cues regarding the modern superhero placement within the 21st century. The textual analysis of Flash Gordon and its findings can then be used as a research template to systematically mark superheroism in American film history.

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