REL 3111 - Superhero Comic Book Religion


This course examines themes pertaining to religion, gods, and myths as they relate to mainstream superhero comic books. Questions we will explore include: How do superheroes resemble and function like gods of traditional religions and mythologies? What does it mean to refer (as many do) to superhero narratives as modern mythology? What are the explicit and implicit theologies and cosmologies of comic book universes? How are gods and other super-powered figures from real-world religions incorporated into superhero stories? How are religious themes and specific religions depicted in superhero comics? What meanings and significance do religious readers of superhero comics find in these stories? Do superhero comics serve as media of religious expression, or even as sources of religious identity? How do fan cultures, in their organizations, practices, and discourses, compare with religious ones? To explore such questions, we will look at sources for the perspectives not only of comic book producers (graphic novels, comic collections, interviews, press releases), but also of consumers (fan letters, fanzines, reviews, blogs, discussion forums) and scholars (academic histories, analysis, and criticism).

Credits: 4 hours

Notes: This course satisfies General Education Area II: Humanities.


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