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Campus Directory


Matthew Costello

Office:Warde Academic Center
Department:History & Political Science


Matthew Costello was raised in Hallowell, Maine, where he spent far too much time reading comic books. He received a Ph.D in Political Science from the University of North Carolina, specializing in African Politics. He has taught at the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and has been a faculty member at Saint Xavier University since 1991. He directs the International Studies Program and has been involved with the Saint Xavier Honors Program since it began. 


Ph.D. in Political Science
University of North Carolina

Areas of Specialization

  • Comparative Politics/International Relations
  • Cold War
  • 9-11 American Political Culture

Courses Taught

  • POLSC 102: World Politics
  • POLSCI 240: Political Philosophy
  • POLSC 241: American Political Thought
  • POLSC 262: Politics and Film
  • POLSC 227: African Politics
  • POLSC 334: War, Peace and Alliances
  • POLSC 336: Global Money and Power

Selected Honors/Awards

  • Teacher-Scholar Award, College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Xavier University 2009
  • Saint Xavier University, Excellence in Scholarship Award, 1997
  • Saint Xavier University/American Association of University Professors Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1993.
  • Patrick Hagan Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching, Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1988.


His publications include several papers on African politics, political development, and international political economy. Since 1999, (when he came to his senses) his research and publication has focused on Cold War culture in film and comic books.

"Super-powered Americans and American Superpower." In The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction, edited by Eric Carl Link and Gerry Canavan. (Cambridge University Press, 2015) pp. 125-139.

(with Kent Worcester) "Politics and Superheroes." PS: Political Science and Politics volume 47(1): 85-89, January 2014.

"The Shopping Malls of Empire: 1980s Consumerism and Imperial Decline in American Flagg!" In Comic Books and Cultural History, edited by Matthew Pustz (Continuum Press, 2012), pp. 152-168.

"Spandex Agonistes: Superhero Comics Confront the War on Terror." In Veronique Braggard, Christophe Dony, and Warren Rosenberg (eds) Portraying 9 / 11: Essays on Representation in Comics, Literature, Film and Theatre (MacFarland, 2011) pp. 30-43.

"The New Superpowered Conflict: Re-Imagining the Cold War in Contemporary Comic Books." in Kathleen Starck (ed.) Cultural Representations of the Cold War (London: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010) pp. 151-165.

Secret Identity Crisis: Comic Books and the Unmasking of Cold War America. (New York: Continuum Press, 2009).

"Rewriting High Noon: Transformations in American Popular Political Culture 1952-1968." in Hollywood's Wests, edited by Peter Rollins, (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2005) pp. 175-197.

"'I Didn't Expect to Find Any Fences Around Here:' Containment and Cultural Ambiguity in Shane." Journal of American Culture. 27(3) pp. 261-271, 2004.

"The Pilgrimage and Progress of George Bailey: Puritanism, It's a Wonderful Life and the Language of Community in America." American Studies, 40(3): 31-52, Fall 1999.

"Impure Public Goods, Relative Gains and International Cooperation." Policy Studies Journal, 24(4): 578-595, April 1996.

"Administration Triumphs Over Politics: The Transformation of the Tanzanian State." African Studies Review 39(1): 123-148, April 1996.

"Market and State: Evaluating Tanzania's State-Led Industrialization program, 1960-1990". World Development 22(10): 1511-1520, October 1994.