Superheroes & Amer. History

Full Course Title: 
For Comics and Country: Superheroes & American History

It’s been over 80 years since Superman (literally) collared Hitler and Hirohito (Superman #17, 1942) and Captain America delivered a knockout punch to Hitler (Captain America Comics #1, 1941). Since the early days of the Golden Age of comics, superhero comics have responded to and informed all periods of American history. In this course, we will study American superhero comics and their contextual connection to specific historical moments and eras. We will examine how superhero comics function as a narrative art form and discuss them in aesthetic and interdisciplinary contexts through such starting points as narrative & storytelling; technology; mythology; psychology; philosophy; religion; and history. Guiding our investigation and studies will be Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, a groundbreaking and masterful study of the comics medium. We will engage in both classroom and online discussions, and extensive individual and group research and writing.

Course Details
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
204: MW 2:00-3:15pm
150: MW 3:30-4:45pm
Fall 2023
The Arts
Student Success

Donald Presnell

Dr. Don Presnell holds MA degrees in English and Spanish from Appalachian State University and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from App State's Reich College of Education. He is the author of Wandering The Wild Wild West: A Critical Analysis of the CBS Television Series (2021) and co-author of A Critical History of Television's The Twilight Zone, 1959-1964 (1998). He has created and taught multiple iterations of First Year Seminar, including “The Narrative Art of Comics”; “The Twilight Zone”; “Doctor Who: TARDIS Travels in General Education”; “Dr. Seuss and Y(our) World”; “The Simple Complexity of Peanuts: Exploring the Perennially Popular Comic Strip”; and “The X-Files: Science Fiction Search for Truth.”

He has been nominated for both the Brantz Award for Outstanding Teaching in First Year Seminar (2012, 2019) and the Harvey R. Durham Outstanding Freshman Advocate Award (2014, 2017, 2018) at Appalachian State University. He is currently the Director of the Common Reading Program and a Senior Lecturer in the First Year Seminar program. His interests include multimodality; literature; comics and graphic novels; film and television studies; English and Spanish; pedagogy and instructional design; educational leadership; and baseball.