The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as (Literary) History

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Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, published since 1999, depicts a world which is populated by characters of fiction, from Allan Quatermain and Captain Nemo to James Bond and Harry Potter. The result is not only a meta-fictional bricolage of cornerstones of popular culture. By situating characters in contexts approximating either the time of their creation or their fictional settings, Moore and Gibbons reconfigure both historical facts and literary history into a meditation on the interrelation between changing cultural values and the narrativization of a civilization. Focusing especially on ideas of Englishness and heroism, the series deals with discourses of discrimination and inequality, aggressively foregrounded in its title which consciously ignores the leading role of lead female character, Mina Murray. This parahistorical fusion of fact and fiction facilitates a focus on the formative effect on the grand recits manifest both in historiography and popular narratives. Hence it allows the characters to reflect upon their status as cultural icons as well as on the malleability of concepts such as masculinity, nationality, and gender, while at the same time embedding them into stories that elude their grasp, giving expression to the discrepancy between the individual’s perspective and the overarching developments that only become apparent through historiographic post-fact evaluation. This paper will demonstrate how the series creates an intricate argument about the feedback between history and literary history through the lens of comics and the medium’s own development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeschichte im Comic
EditorsBernd Dolle-Weinkauff
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherChristian A. Bachmann
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)978-3-941030-98-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Meta-fictional bricolage
  • Cultural values
  • Historiographic narrative
  • Parahistorical fusion
  • Literary history


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