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The Woman Fantastic in Contemporary American Media Culture$
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Elyce Rae Helford, Shiloh Carroll, Sarah Gray, and Michael R. II Howard

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496808714

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496808714.001.0001

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date: 15 December 2018

The Dragon Lady of Gotham: Feminine Power, the Mythical East, and Talia al Ghul

The Dragon Lady of Gotham: Feminine Power, the Mythical East, and Talia al Ghul

Chapter:
(p.61) The Dragon Lady of Gotham: Feminine Power, the Mythical East, and Talia al Ghul
Source:
The Woman Fantastic in Contemporary American Media Culture
Author(s):

Tosha Taylor

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496808714.003.0004

In “The Dragon Lady of Gotham: Feminine Power, the Mythical East, and Talia al Ghul,” Tosha Taylor considers the gender and race politics of Batman’s most complex enemy and ally. The chapter explores patterns of Orientalist fantasy in the character’s actions and appearance. Working from the initial Orientalist inspiration for Talia’s villainous family as related by the character’s creators, Taylor posits that Talia’s chief function in the D.C. universe has been to embody the stereotype of the “Dragon Lady,” an exotic temptress capable of unconscionable acts of betrayal. The chapter examines Talia’s forty-year struggle between villainess and heroine and argues that her agency depends on her conformity to Western myths about Arabic and East Asian woman. The study concludes with consideration of whether Talia might at times serve as metatexual indictment of Western heterosexist fantasy, craftily appropriating stereotypical images of Orientalism in order to manipulate heterosexual male characters.

Keywords:   Talia al Ghul, Batman, Orientalism, Dragon Lady, Villainess

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