How do we talk about superheroes, and in turn, how do superheroes talk about us and who we are as a people?  Superheroes often act as symbolic figures that order our imaginations, teaching values such as friendship, loyalty, family and morality.  Superheroes also act as national symbols, amassing attention, popularity, acclaim and capital.  The course questions the role and the function of the superhero within culture by examining superheroes and similar figures from throughout the East Asian region.  Why do these superheroes exist?  How do these superheroes, who often originate as underdogs, capture our imaginations with their struggles?  What do they mean, how do they mean, and why are their meanings significant?  How do they articulate, via their bodily depictions, issues of nation, individual, (trans)nationalism, supernatural, trans/posthumanism, gender and sexuality?  Students will explore depictions of notable heroes from the region such as the Monkey King and Hua Mulan in China, Momotarō, Ultraman and Godzilla in Japan, Robot Taekwon V in South Korea and Pulgasari in North Korea in order to ascertain their heroic properties and specific appeal to their respective audiences.  Students will also scrutinize characters of East Asian origin in American superhero films in order to acquire a comparative framework for their analyses.  In these investigations, students will examine a wide variety of materials across literature, film, television, comic books and animation in pursuit of the answers to questions about their nature and purpose. As a ConnCourse, this course makes connections across the liberal arts.




Students participating in the foreign language section will receive one additional credit hour, pass/not passed marking.

This course is initially open to first-year and sophomore students. It will be open to all students after first-year students have pre-registered. 

Cross Listed Courses

This is the same course as ENG 109.

Enrollment Limit

Enrollment limited to 28 students.