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Education for Total Liberation

Critical Animal Pedagogy and Teaching Against Speciesism


Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II, Carolyn Drew, Amber E. George, Sinem Ketenci, John Lupinacci, Ian Purdy and Joe Leeson-Schatz

Education for Total Liberation is a collection of essays from leaders in the field of critical animal pedagogy (CAP). CAP emerges from activist educators teaching critical animal studies and is rooted in critical theory as well as the animal advocacy movement. Critical animal studies (CAS) argues for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding our relationships with nonhuman animals. CAS challenges two specific fields of theory: (1) animal studies, rooted in vivisection and testing on animals in the hard sciences and (2) human-animal studies, which reinforces a socially constructed binary between humans and animals and adopts abstract theoretical approaches. In contrast, CAS takes a progressive and committed approach to scholarship and sees the exploitation of nonhuman animals as interrelated with oppression of humans based on class, gender, race, ability, sexuality, age, and citizenship. CAS promotes the liberation of all animals and challenges all systems of domination. Education for Total Liberation is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate level readers (and beyond) who wish to learn from examples of radical pedagogical projects shaped by CAS and critical pedagogy.

Contributing to this collection are Anne C. Bell, Anita de Melo, Carolyn Drew, Amber E. George, Karin Gunnarsson Dinker, Sinem Ketenci, John Lupinacci, Anthony J. Nocella II, Sean Parson, Helena Pedersen, Ian Purdy, Constance L. Russell, J.L. Schatz, Meneka Repka, William E. Shanahan III, and Richard J, White.

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4. Our Heroes Need to Wear Ski-Masks: The Animal Man and the Animal Liberationist Hero in Comics (Sean Parson)


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4.   Our Heroes Need to Wear Ski-Masks: The Animal Man and the Animal Liberationist Hero in Comics


Superhero narratives have become central to how our culture understands heroism. We think of caped and masked men fighting street crime, working to thwart a sinister plot for world domination, or stopping an alien invasion. We picture Batman, or Superman, or the X-Men. Many like to claim that these stories—especially considering how fantastical the stories and powers are—are mere escapism, that they primarily serve as a way to find comfort in an otherwise chaotic and scary world, but that is far from the truth. Superhero stories, as Eco and Chilton (1972) note in Superman, can serve as a tool to protect the status quo and protect the rule of property, but they can, as Ramzi Fawaz (2016) notes, also open up space for creative imagination, alternative worlds, and expanded democratic involvement.

It is partially through the stories we see in comic books and superhero films that our culture develops and generates its understanding of what it means to be a hero. Throughout much of its history the genre of comics can be seen as creating a space for both reactionary and radical politics to emerge and the heroes that emerge from this process tend to embody these politics: we see both Iron Man, the defender of the American Military Industrial Complex (Costello, 2009), and Captain America, the...

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