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American Culture Studies

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The Superhero in American Culture

American Culture Studies 3272 - Spring 2020

The superhero is an American cultural figure that enjoys great metaphoric resonance in contemporary America and about contemporary America, much as the Western did during the Cold War. But this metaphoric resonance has existed since the genre came into being with Superman in 1938 as part of the nation's response to modernity, and predates the creation of the genre through the hero figures that contributed tropes to the superhero genre. Through a cultural historical and transmedia approach, this course examines the superhero and the superhero genre as a myth medium and contested site for portraying and shaping ideas about American identity, masculinity, modernism, race, class, gender, and humanity. The prehistory of the superhero is examined in 19th and early 20th century frontier stories, science fiction, and pulp fiction. The definition of the superhero and the genre's evolution in comics, film, television, and fan-produced works are examined, with a focus on how the genre has served and mediated the conflicting needs of creators and audiences.
Course Attributes: EN HBU HumAS HUMFA HUMAR HUM

Section 01

The Superhero in American Culture
INSTRUCTOR: Coogan
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