ENG480 201703 Undergraduate

Term: 
Spring 2018
Course: 
ENG 480
Applies To: 
Undergraduate
Sections: 
Title: 
Modern American Superhero
Instructors: 

Ben Saunders

Ben Saunders profile picture
  • Title: Professor
  • Additional Title: Director, Comics and Cartoon Studies Minor
  • Phone: 541-346-0062
  • Office: 273 PLC
  • Office Hours: Spring term: FRI 2pm-5pm
Department Section Description: 

In this class we will map the path of the American comic book superhero and explore the ways in which that journey reflects larger processes of social change. We will consider these superheroes not only as expressions of an ancient mythic heroic tradition, but also as distinctly “modern” creations, whose origins and adventures reflect the tumultuous epistemic and political transformations of the 20th century. We will also analyze several key examples of this popular comic-book genre in aesthetic terms, regarding them as expressions of a misunderstood and under-appreciated art form, as uniquely American as Jazz. Together we will try to formulate a critical vocabulary to discuss this remarkable artistic legacy. Finally, we will make an effort to understand better the ongoing imaginative appeal of the costumed crime-fighter — an appeal that can apparently overlap significant distinctions of age, gender, nation, and culture, and which no amount of silliness or cynicism seems quite able to dispel.

Fulfills: 

Old Major: C-Literature 1789-Present

Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history.  Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.

C-Literature 1789-Present

Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history.  Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.

Comics Studies Minor

Comics Studies Minor courses present students with an international, historical, and critical perspective on the art of editorial cartoons, comic books, and graphic novels, and how these forms communicate, inform, and emotionally engage their audiences.  Students will be required to think outside of accustomed disciplinary boundaries, and to analyze and experiment with the interaction of both visual and linguistic systems of meaning.

English Minor

English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts.  The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.