Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Humanities and Cultural Studies
Sheramy Bundrick, Ph.D.
Larissa Kopytoff, Ph.D.
Jill McCracken, Ph.D.
American Society, Athens, Greece, Mythology, Wonder Woman
In today’s global society, the mediums in which cultural iconography are portrayed are mostly film, photography, and other mass media. 2500 years ago, in classical Athens, pottery and sculpture dominated the social scene. . Regardless of societies, religions, cultures, etc., certain human traits seem to follow us through time. On the other hand, some things do change, i.e.: the way civilizations view other groups through cultural lenses, view their own culture through perceived gender norms, and how civilizations and cultures try to correlate taboos into the exotic or barbaric. Wonder Woman is a recreation, or reinvention, of an ancient Athenian myth with the objective of influencing American cultural and gender norms and traditions in order to create a more egalitarian perspective about women and/or society.
To strengthen my argument that Amazons and Wonder Woman have been used as a conduit for social and cultural change various works from Ancient Athens and modern renditions of Wonder Woman will be visually interpreted to find correlations and contradictions.
A key argument of my thesis is that to the Ancient Greeks, the Amazon was an undesirable, female antagonist towards the civilized, patriarchal society that was Athens. In contrast, Wonder Woman of the 20th century was created to be the pinnacle of a just hero(ine) in a society that was strife with male driven conflict, war, and injustice. Gender roles within a society have often been a source of tension within cultures around the world. The mythology of the Amazon warrior woman has been manipulated throughout time to adhere to, but also promote, the gender roles and norms set forth by certain cultures from ancient times until the present.
As with the Ancient Amazons of Greek mythology, Wonder Woman of today’s American society is many things to many people. Mythology mimics the culture of the society that creates it. That society impresses attitudes and beliefs of their culture into their mythological stories. What is Wonder Woman to you, what does she represent? To me Wonder Woman is the pinnacle of what American society can be, not just a beautiful secretary with heightened sexuality, or a powerful dominatrix of sexual taboo.
So, how will Amazons be reinvented in the future? Will Amazons and Wonder Woman continue to be avenues for discussion on gender norms and gender equality? We simply do not know; however, Wonder Woman is a persona for this conversation. We do not know what this topic will look like in the future. Without unshackling ourselves from perceived notions of sex and appearance, we can never fully get to equality. At least Wonder Woman is a step in the right direction of questioning on how we think of our own society and the aspects of culture that have built it. We will always need a hero for equality and justice, even if that hero was once an ancient villain whose story has changed over thousands of years to become a hero that makes us question who we really are.
Scholar Commons Citation
Poorman, James William, "From Mythology to Pop Culture: Myth, Representation, and the Historiography of the Amazon Warrior Woman in Ancient Art and Modern Media" (2021). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.