Last week it was announced that 92 year old legendary comic book and superhero creator Stan Lee with Michael & David Uslan would be providing fan-boys and fan-girls everywhere with a chance to learn about the history of the superhero.
The Rise Of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture, starting May 5th, is one of three courses offered by the Smithsonian’s brand new SmithsonianX initiative on the edX platform.
Stan and faculty will be discussing the golden age origins of superheroes in comics books, how they parallel our opinions, perspectives and everyday lives, culture and more:
- Why did superheroes first arise in 1938 and experience what we refer to as their “Golden Age” during World War II?
- Why did the superhero genre ebb and flow in popularity over the decades?
- How have comic books, published weekly since the mid-1930’s, mirrored a changing American society, reflecting our mores, slang, fads, biases and prejudices?
- Why was the comic book industry nearly shut down in the McCarthy Era of the 1950’s?
- How did our superheroes become super-villains in the eyes of the government, clergy, educators, and parents of the mid-20th Century?
- When and how did comic books become acceptable again, and eventually become valid teaching tools in universities and schools?
- When and how did comic book artwork become accepted as a true American art form as indigenous to this country as jazz?
- Finally, when and how did comic books become “cool” and the basis for blockbuster movies, hit TV series, top-selling video games, and acclaimed animation, while also impacting fashion and style- and even the moral and ethical codes of children- around the globe?
This isn’t Stan Lee’s first foray into the MOOC universe. Lee narrated a promotional video for the popular Gender thru Comic Books taught by anthropologist Christina Blanch of Ball State which ran in 2013 on the Canvas Network platform.
As an added bonus when students complete edX’s verified certificate path they will receive original artwork signed by both Lee and Uslan. If you’ve ever been to a comic convention, you’ll know that if you wanted Stan “The Man” Lee’s signature you would have had to spend hundreds of dollars and wait in line for hours.
To this once in a lifetime opportunity, I say excelsior!