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University of Oregon

Benjamin Saunders

Benjamin Saunders profile picture
  • Title: Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-0062
  • Office: 366 PLC
  • Office Hours: On sabbatical 2016-17, checking email M & R afternoons
  • Curriculum Vitae

More About Benjamin Saunders



Do The Gods Wear Capes: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes (Continuum, 2011).

Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation, Harvard University  Press, 2006 (Selected Finalist for the Oregon Book Award, 2007, in the category of General Non-Fiction; also Short Listed by Choice Magazine for Outstanding Academic Title of 2006).

Rock Over The Edge: Transformations in Popular Music Culture, Duke University Press, 2002 (co-edited with Denise Fulbrook and Roger Beebe).


See Vita for numerous articles, reviews, and shorter writings on Shakespeare, Donne, and diverse aspects of both Early Modern and Contemporary Literary Culture.


Ben Saunders specializes in two fields: the literature of the English Renaissance; and the history of British and American comics and cartoons.  His first book, Desiring Donne, explored the intersection of spirituality and sexuality in the poetry of John Donne alongside larger questions of literary theory and hermeneutics.  Desiring Donne was shortlisted by Choice magazine as one of the outstanding academic titles of 2006, and also selected as a Finalist for the Oregon Book Award that same year.  His second book, Do The Gods Wear Capes?, focused on modern American superhero comics, arguing that the superhero fantasy can tell us a great deal about about our conceptions of the human, the post-human, and the divine.  In addition, he has written scholarly articles on a variety of topics, from William Shakespeare to Charles Schulz; co-edited a collection of essays on popular music (Rock Over The Edge, with Roger Beebe and Denise Fulbrook); and curated several exhibitions for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the UO.  He also writes occasionally for the pop-culture website, The Hooded Utilitarian.  (Visit for a complete list of his online essays.)

Professor Saunders has given invited lectures at some of the most prestigious universities in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and is a regular speaker at comic-book conventions.  He founded and currently directs the University of Oregon Undergraduate Minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies (the first undergraduate minor of its kind in the country).  In 2011 he served as a judge for the Eisner Awards (the comic-book industry Oscars) and in 2012 he was a Special Guest at the San Diego Comic Con.  

His other teaching and research interests include contemporary literary theory, Anglo-American poetry and poetics, the history of pornography, and 1950s Rock & Roll.  He used to moonlight occasionally as an actor and musician, and he still enjoys making music with friends and family when the opportunity arises.