Description and Reading List

The Deconstructed Superhero

An in-depth study of heroism in American literature and its effects on American culture through selected works in superhero comics. The late 1980s and early 1990s marked a certain period in American comics where postmodernism was at its peak and the critique of heroism and society as a whole was more prevalent. The selected works that we will be dealing with are the most notable from this period: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, and Animal Man by Grant Morrison. We will be exploring these works in several different ways, from looking at the superhero's relation to popular notions of the American hero, the superhero and democratic institutions, and how they relate to the history of comics as a whole. During this course we will be doing a close textual analysis of these works, with an emphasis on how they deconstruct the idea of the American Hero. This class is being offered for 2 credits and meets twice a week. In addition to the regular class discussions, students will be expected to prepare daily response papers and one larger 5 page paper at the end of the class. Prerequisite : None

Primary reading will be

Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Animal Man Vol. 1, 2, 3 by Grant Morrison

Secondary reading will be

Comic Book Nation by Bradford Wright
Gunfighter Nation by Richard Slotkin
Superheroes: A Modern Mythology by Richard Reynolds
Umberto Eco’s article “Myth of Superman”


There may also be several other articles assigned, as well as the possibilities for supplemental movies on Monday and Wednesday nights
Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM