Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Gregory J. Howard

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan M. Carlson

Third Advisor

Dr. David J. Hartmann


fandom, stigma, comic books, stigma consciousness, cultural studies

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This research project explores the concept of stigma consciousness as applied to the subculture of comic book fandom. Integrating the disciplines of social psychology and cultural studies, this study examines the dynamic and socially constructed nature of the stigma process as applied to the specific cultural form of the American comic book, while identifying and measuring several variables of potential influence on perceptions of the hierarchy of American cultural values. The purpose is to address an existing gap in the academic literature of fan studies in regards to the marginalization and stigmatization of fan cultures as experienced by the members of these groups.

Through the use of a questionnaire modeled on pre-existing studies in the realm of stigma research, members of the comic book fandom subculture communicate aspects of their experiences and perceptions related to their social identity as comic book fans. At its core, this project calls into question many of the claims made in the area of fandom studies and can potentially shape direction in the dialogue on the role of contemporary fandom in the social construction of identity.