Summer school


You know that Alice Cooper song – School’s Out? That’s how I am getting to feel here, since the semester is *almost* done. With that said, I am excited about the second half of the summer session because, as always, I get to teach ENC 1101, which is the basic freshman comp class where they get to write relatively creative papers. I am pumped because this time, they are going to write about superheroes.

Now, I am trying to flesh out this idea but mainly, I want to talk about the nature of superheroes and villains and then their moral codes, or at least their modus operandi. I will be making a powerpoint in which we discuss different heores and villains and what they’re after. For example, the main reason Lex Luthor does anything is to acquire land. When you boil it all down, that’s his ultimate goal. Similarly, we all know what Batman’s main purpose is but one of his key features is that he never uses guns. These will all play into part of their assignment in which they must explore their alter-ego hero or villain and justify their purpose. I want to do character sheets in which they really flesh out their personas.

Furthermore, I really want to show movie clips to try and integrate some of the aspects of heroes/villains and also, the iconography we put onto such figures in popular culture. If you have any ideas about this, I would be utterly grateful! I am pumped about this paper because I think they’re going to love it a whole lot. The guys will love it because um, comics, bad guys, and maybe some hot girls in tight outfits. Some of the girls might be turned off but eh, I’ll show ’em some Nightwing prancing about in his awesome outfit and they might jump on board as well.

nightwing

One thought on “Summer school

  1. What a fantastic idea, wish I’d thought of it!

    So, I gather that this is a single paper in an 1101 class? My first recommendation is that you give them some comics to read (free comic book day is May somethin’ or other, maybe you could work out a deal with what’s left at the end of the day?).

    As with everything teachers are in love with, your students will resist it and some will hate it, particularly those that haven’t ever read a comic. A number of people in the class won’t even know how to read it. “Does it go up and down or left to right?” Which is why I’d say to get them something to learn on.

    But, if you want the best possible student investment, then you need a quality book. “Watchmen” works extremely well becuase there are a nubmer of different features to examine about how this art form is unique. It covers all of the basic things you’d expect, hero origin stories (both psychological via Rorschach and mystical via Dr. Manhattan), arch-villains who posture (and who are maddeningly convincing), costumes that reveal sexual repression, gender stereotypes, and adolescent wish fulfillment, and 20th century horror at the concept of nuclear annihilation.

    And, on top of all that, you have an art style that invokes newspaper comic strips in its regularity, and compounds and confounds the notion of art and text by inundating the reader with an ever present stream of pop-media in the form of graffiti, action figures, handbills, signs, billboards, commercials, newsreels, newspapers, comic books (The Black Freigher), pornography, and an Antartic fortress at the bottom of the world where the chief villain/hero analyzes how to save the world by watching TV!

    However, the biggest drawback is that it works off of a number of comic book stereotypes and conventions that most of them will be unaware of. They’ll still enjoy it, but you’d have to be careful what you take for granted.

    Sorry, I know I’m rambling, but I’ve just got a little more.

    They’ll love creating their own characters, if the goal is just to make them work creatively, but it is a greater challenge for them, and can be more fun for you, if you restrict the kinds of powers and abilities you let them create. If you tell them to make a character with superpowers, then half will be Batman and the other half will fly and be super strong. It can be a fun and creative excercise to force them to come up with powers and abilities that are logical (if unbelievable) and unique, a dynamite explosion shouldn’t give you the ability to turn to ice. The more you force them to create internal logic, the more they have to think about crafting the story and character. If they have to have an origin, don’t let them be mutants, it’s a cop out.

    Ok, sorry, it’s a fun assignment and I’d love to hear what you come up with.

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