ENGL 207 A: Introduction To Cultural Studies


Meeting Time: 
MWF 11:30am - 12:20pm
OTB 014
Tom Foster
Tom Foster

Syllabus Description:

Schedule of readings: You should complete the required reading prior to the lecture for that day (for instance, read the works assigned for October 2 before the October 2 lecture). Shorter pieces available as pdfs are marked as such below and can be found on the “Files” page of the Canvas site. Some readings are suggested only; you are not required to read these works prior to lecture. I will reference suggested readings in lecture, and they may be required for your discussion section (if so, these readings and the dates for their completion will be announced in section). But you will not be tested on the suggested readings, though you may use them in your take-home essays.

Week 1
September 30: Introduction and overview

October 2: The science-fictional context
                    Excerpt from Philip Wylie, Gladiator (pdf)
                    Jack Williamson, “The Girl From Mars” (pdf)   

Suggested only: Brian Attebery, “Super Men (pdf) 

Suggested only: Friedrich Nietzsche, This Spoke Zarathustra


Week 2.
October 5: C.L. (Catherine) Moore and Henry Kuttner, “The Children’s Hour” (pdf)
                   C.L. Moore, “No Woman Born” (pdf)
                   Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother” (pdf)
Suggested only: Brian Attebery, “Wonder Women” (pdf)

October 7: Defining the comics medium
                    Excerpts from Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics (pdf)

October 9: Superman and the origin of the comic-book superhero
                   Gerard Jones, “Men of Tomorrow” (pdf)
                   Herbert S. Fine (Jerry Siegel), “Reign of the Superman” – available online at:
                   “The Origin of Superman & His Powers” (June 1939; in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told)
                   “What If Superman Ended the War?” (February 1940; in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told)
                   “Visit to Hitler” (1945, Superman Sunday newspaper comics; pdf)
                   Kim Newman, “Ubermensch” (pdf)
Suggested only: “The Conquest of a City” (1942; pdf)
Suggested only: “The King of the Comic Books” (1943; pdf)

Week 3. Superman and other comic-book superheroes
October 12: “The Adventure of the Merchant of Murder” (May 1942; pdf)
                      “Must There Be a Superman?” (1972; in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told)
                      “The Man of Steel” (1986; in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told)
                      “Return to Krypton” (1988; in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told)
                      “When Worlds Collide” (pdf)
                      Umberto Eco, “The Myth of Superman” (pdf)
Suggested only: “The Origin of Superman” (1948; pdf)

October 14: Batman
                     “The Return of Doctor Death” (1939; pdf)
                     “Batman Versus the Vampire, Parts One and Two” (1939; pdf)
                     “The Origin of Batman” (1948; pdf)
Suggested only: “There Is No Hope in Crime Alley!” (1976; pdf)
Suggested only: “Case No. 1: Meet Captain America” (1941; pdf)

October 16: Wonder Woman
                     “The Origin of Wonder Woman” (1942; pdf)
                     “The Unbound Amazon” (1943; pdf)
                     “Battle for Womanhood” (1943; pdf)
                     Trina Robbins, “The Great Women Superheroes” (pdf)
Suggested only: “The Adventure of the Life Vitamin” (1943; pdf)
Suggested only: “America’s Wonder Women of Tomorrow” (1943; pdf)

Week 4. Contemporary superhero narratives and the turn to realism
October 19: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen
                     Alan Moore, “The Mark of Batman: An Introduction” (pdf)

October 21: Watchmen

October 23: Watchmen

Take-home midterm exam essay questions posted, Friday, October 23

Week 5.
October 26: Watchmen
                     Geoff Klock, “The Revisionary Superhero Narrative” (pdf)

October 28: Watchmen

October 30: Midterm exam, in class; take-home essays due

Week 6. Narrating a universe: Return to the Silver Age
November 2: Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, Marvels
                       Charles Hatfield, “Jack Kirby and the Marvel Aesthetic” (pdf)

November 4: Marvels

November 6: Marvels

Week 7. From universe to multiverse
November 9: Alan Moore and Gene Ha, Top 10

November 11: No class; Veteran’s Day

November 13: Top 10
Suggested only: Henry Jenkins, “Scribbling in the Margins: Fan Readers/Fan Writers” (pdf)


Week 8.
November 16: Top 10

November 18: Superheroes, race, and gender
                          Dwayne McDuffie and M.D. Bright, Icon: A Hero's Welcome
                          Jeffrey Brown, “Comic Book Masculinity” (pdf)

November 20: Icon

Week 9.
November 23: Icon

November 25: No class; Thanksgiving holiday

November 27: No class; Thanksgiving holiday

Week 10.
November 30: Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, The Shadow Hero
Suggested only: Saladin Ahmed, “How Censors Killed the Weird, Experimental, Progressive Golden Age of Comics”;   available online at http://www.buzzfeed.com/saladinahmed/how-the-comics-code-killed-the-gold...

December 2: The Shadow Hero

December 4: The Shadow Hero

Week 11.
December 7: G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel
                        “Plague of Plastic People” (1950; pdf)
                        H.G. Wells, “The Limits of Individual Plasticity” (pdf)

December 9: Ms. Marvel

December 11: Ms. Marvel


Take-home final exam questions posted, Friday, December 11

In-class final exam, Wednesday, December 16, 2:30-4:20 p.m., in our regular classroom, OTB 014


Catalog Description: 
Introduces cultural studies as an interdisciplinary field and practice. Explores multiple histories of the field with an emphasis on current issues and developments. Focuses on culture as a site of political and social debate and struggle. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 12:38pm