Noah Berlatsky reads Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948 | Women & Children First | Literary Events | Chicago Reader
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Noah Berlatsky reads Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948 

When: Thu., Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m. 2015
William Moulton Marston led a strange and wondrous life. A Harvard PhD, he claimed to be the inventor of the lie detector, served as a psychological consultant for Universal Pictures, was an authority on marital harmony (as well as a participant in a long-term three-way polyamorous relationship), and wrote extensively on feminist theory. But his greatest achievement was the Wonder Woman comics. "It's really strange and kind of amazing that he managed to produce comics of bondage for eight-year-old girls," says Noah Berlatsky, a cultural critic, Reader contributor, and author of the new book Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948. Marston's story has recently become better known: in the past year, both Jill Lepore and Tim Hanley have published books about him and his work. But while Lepore and Hanley concentrated on Marston's biography, Berlatsky returns directly to the original comics, written by Marston and drawn by Harry Peter, and examines how Marston's fascinations with bondage and lesbianism and his theories about women, love, and pacifism manifested themselves. This is a serious academic work, intended for people who, like Berlatsky, love cultural theory and comics. The Wonder Woman comics were an odd kind of propaganda. Marston believed the world would be a better, more peaceful place if it were like Wonder Woman's homeland of Paradise Island: a matriarchal society where citizens are bound—often literally—by love. Marston's kinks cannot be ignored, Berlatsky argues; they're part of his message. "I see Marston as a feminist and queer theorist," says Berlatsky. "He engaged in a discussion about what feminism is and what sexuality is and how it relates to society. He wanted to change the world, and it makes sense to start with young people. There are no comics like it." —Aimee Levitt

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