Friday, January 29, 2021

Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication


Why Wakanda Matters is a collection of essays by several different contributors on the psychology and cultural impact of Black Panther edited by Dr. Sheena C. Howard. Due out 2nd Feb 2021 from BenBella Books, it's 288 pages (print edition) and will be available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. 

I've been a comics/speculative fiction/SF/fantasy nerd my whole life (literally, my dad was also a comics fan, and my grandfather taught himself English by reading comics). I've enjoyed seeing the massive commercial success of many comics franchises in film and television and the serious consideration of comics and graphic novels as valid vehicles for profound and relevant storytelling. That is one reason this collection really appealed to me. These essays are from recognized professionals analyzing the psychology and cultural relevance of Black Panther and how it dovetails with the modern African American diaspora. 

The essays are grouped roughly thematically: collective identity and connectedness, racial identity, intergenerational trauma and resistance, and cognition and identification. The essays themselves are written in layman accessible language with an academic slant. I often found myself challenged and moved while reading. It certainly gave me a lot to think about. The chapters are extensively annotated and the referenced materials will give keen readers a lot of directions for further reading. 

Five stars, I think this is an *important* and relevant book. This would be a superlative choice for classroom use/lecture/ or support material for race/gender studies, sociology, media, psychology, communication, film/literature, and allied subjects. It would also be a great choice for library acquisition, home library, or gifting. Well written.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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