Thursday, January 13, 2011

Course Description for Spring, ENG 140J

Here's the course description for my next class at UCR, running in the Spring for ten weeks.


This course examines the story of the superhero in many mediums. We will begin by dividing this story into two-week chapters: Origin, Enemy, Love, Teammates, and Death. Then, over the course of the quarter, we will read comics and novels, watch films and television episodes, and engage with other manifestations of the superhero from video games to Broadway musicals or the Real Life Superhero movement. With each of our "chapters" we will ask ourselves: How does the narrative of the superhero change when the form changes? That is, if we take the superhero narrative as presented in comic books as a baseline, how do films, television, and other forms alter that baseline narrative? Along the way, we are tempted to ask larger questions about the superhero itself and its waxing and waning popularity from 1938 to the present.

A reading list is still being collected, but the course will draw extensively on UCR's comics collection housed in the Eaton Collection. Many of the comics we will want to read are simply not available outside of rare collections. In addition, students should expect to spend some time each week watching films or television episodes placed on reserve at the Media Library. In addition to comics, we will read Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay". Students should also be familiar with Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" and should have read this book prior to the beginning of the term. Additional theory and criticism on the superhero in specific and comics in general will be made available through reserve copies.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful class. I can't wait to eavesdrop!

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