Superheroes and American Political Culture

Class Schedule

 

Part 1: Introduction to Cultural Studies and Superheroes

 

Week 1:

Tuesday, January 16: Intro to the class

Reading:

  • Read the syllabus

Thursday, January 18: Introduction to Superheroes

Reading:

  • “Our Fascination with Superheroes” in (eds.) Robin Rosenberg

  • Matthew Costello and Kent Worcester “The Politics of the Superhero” in PS: Political Science & Society, January 2014

 

 

Week 2:

Tuesday, January 23rd: How to do Cultural Studies and Criticism

Reading:

  • Iam Bogost, , Intro: “Nobody asked for a toaster critic: Doing Videogame Criticism.”

  • Ian Bogost, How to Talk about Videogames, ch 3 “The Blue Shell Is Everything That’s Wrong with America”

Thursday, January 25th: Doing Cultural Criticism, examples

Reading:

  • Stuart Hall “Coding and Decoding

  • Annika Hagley and Michael Harrison “Fighting the Battles we Never Could: The Avengers and Post-September 11 American Political Identity” in January 2014

Film

  • Avengers (2012)

 

 

Week 3: What is a superhero?  

Tuesday January 30th: The early history of comics

Readings:

  • Bradford W. Wright , ch. 1 “Superheroes for the Common Man: The Birth of the Comic Book Industry, 1933-1941”

Thursday February 1st: Superman

Reading

Film:

  • Superman (1978)

 

 

Week 4:

Tuesday February 6th: Complicating the Superhero

Readings:

  • Ian Gordon, , ch. 2 “Ideology and Morality”

Thursday February 8th: Superman as nationalist hero?

Graphic Novel:

  • Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, and Kilian Plunkett,

Reading:

  • Fredric Wertham, “the Superman conceit” from by Charles Hatfield, Jeet Heer, and Kent Worcester (eds)

 

Part 2: The Superhero, Political Nationalism, Imperialism, and War

 

Week 5: Superhero as nationalist icon

Tuesday, February 13th:

Readings:

  • Jason Dittmer, , ch 1 “Introducing Nationalist Superheroes”

Thursday, February 15th:                    FIRST FILM CRITICISM DUE

Film:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2014)

Reading:

  • Matthew Costello , , ch. 2 “The Enemy Without: 1961-1968”

 

 

Week 6:

Tuesday, February 20th: Gender and American Nationalism

Reading:

  • Ben Sanders ch. 2 “Wonder Woman: Bondage and Liberation”

Thursday, February 22nd:

Film:

  • Wonder Woman (2017)

Reading:

 

 

Week 7:

Tuesday, February 27th: Imperialist Superheroes

Reading:

  • Chris Gavaler, “The Imperial Superhero” from Vol. 47, Issue 1 (2014)

Thursday February 29th: Military Industrial Complex and Iron Man

Film:

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)

Readings:

  • Scott Jeffery, “The military-Industrial Body” from (2016)

 

 

Week 8:

Tuesday, March 6th: Terrorism and the Superhero narrative

Readings:

  • Jerrod S. MacFarlane, “Desperate Times and Desperate Measures: False-Representation and distortion of Terrorism in Post-9/11 Superhero Films” from vol. 7, issue 3 (2014)

Thursday: March 8th: The Animal-industrial Complex

Graphic Novel:

  • Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely,

Readings:

  • Allison Dushane “We3 and the Violence of Sentimentality” from Superheroes and Critical Animal Studies: The Heroic Beasts of Total Liberation

 

 

Week 9: Gender and Horrorism and the Trauma of War

Reading:

  • François Debrix, “Horror beyond death: Geopolitics and the Pulverization of the human”, , vol 89-90 (2017)

Thursday, April 19th: War, Trauma, and Agency

Graphic Novel:

  • Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda,

Readings:

 

 

Week 10: SPRING BREAK

 

 

 

Part 3: Superheroes, Race, and Agency

 

Week 12:

Tuesday April 3rd: The Black Superhero

Reading:

  • No Reading

Thursday April 5th:                           SECOND FILM CRITICISM DUE

Graphic Novel:

  • Ta-Nehisi Coats,

Readings:

 

 

Week 12

Tuesday, April 10th: Race

Readings:

  • Adilifu Nama, , ch. 2 “The Birth of Cool”

Thursday, April 12th: A bullet proof black man

Graphic Novel:

  • Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, amal Igle, Khary Randolph, , Black Mask Studios (2017)

Reading:

 

 

Part 4: Superheroes, Gender, and Resistance

 

Week 13

Tuesday, April 17th: Gender Violence and Women’s Agency

Readings:

  • Carolyn Cocca, , introduction “Representation Matters”

Thursday, April 19th:                                      THIRD FILM CRITICISM DUE

Film

  • Jessica Jones (2016) first three episodes

Reading:

 

 

Week 14:

Tuesday April 24th: Feminism and Superheroes

Reading:

  • Neal Curtis and Valentino Cardo, “Superheroes and thirdwave feminism” from

Thursday April 26th: Gender, Prison and Dystopia

Graphic Novel:

  • Kelley Sue Deconnick and Valentino De Landro,

Reading:

  • Ellen Kirkpatrick “you need to learn to see yourself in your fathers’ eyes’: Feminism, Representation and the Dystopian Space of from Vol. 116, No. 1 (2017

 

 

 Part 5: Class, Inequality, and Migration

 

Week 16 [POLL WILL BE DONE ON WHICH FILM TO FOCUS ON ]

Tuesday May 1st: Class, capitalism, and Inequality

Readings:

  • NO READING

Thursday May 3rdh:                                         FOURTH FILM CRITICISM DUE

Film:

  • Batman: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Readings:

 

Week 16:
Tuesday May 1st: Catch-up Day

  • NO ADDITIONAL READINGS

 

Thursday May 3rd:

Film:

Reading:

Kayleigh Donaldson, “Logan is the most Political X-men Movie Yet” found at https://screenrant.com/logan-movie-mexico-border-political/

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