Superheroes 9/28 – Essay assignment

Yesterday I assigned our first essay of the semester. In case you weren’t there, here are the requirements.

Before students left on Tuesday they provided me with a written down topic idea and sources. If you haven’t handed that in to me please do so tomorrow.

Religion’s Influence on Superheroes

Now we’ve read studied some connections between religion – mostly Christianity but not exclusively Christianity – and superheroes, it’s time for you to start making your own connections. Examine the religious backgrounds of the superheroes we know today (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc.) and see how they connect to superheroes of old (Beowulf, Thor, etc.).

Here are some topic ideas. You can, of course, come up with your own:

-(Redemptive) violence in Christianity and comics
-How comics reflect the relationship between god(s) and man
-Combat myth in religion and comics
-Depictions of religion in Beowulf & Kingdom Come
-Comparison of Beowulf to Superman, Wonder Woman and/or Batman
(or someone else)
-Old Testament vs. New Testament ideas and reflections in comics/superheroes
-World mythology and non-Christian religious influence on superheroes
-Any other idea you want, so long as it touches on archetypes, religion and/or other mythology

Along with outside research, use the resources from the class to help you as well:

-Kingdom Come
-Archetypes checklist (descriptions of these archetypes can be found on our blog)
-Combat myth
-Bible verses
-Early British poetry (“The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer”)

Quick expectations:

-2.5 to 4 pages typed, normal formatting (double spaced, 12 pt. font)
-At least two sources (one must be either Beowulf or Kingdom Come)
-Rough draft due Thursday, Oct. 6. It will be revised/edited

First draft due on Thursday, Oct. 6.

American Lit 9/23 – Modernizing Death of a Salesman

Over the weekend finish up your ten modernizations of themes/characters/motifs in Death of a Salesman. You don’t have the books with you so I won’t blame you if you don’t have page numbers, but all the resources we looked at in class are below:


And if you’re really ambitious, here’s a pdf of the play, though no page numbers:

For Monday have 10 of those boxes filled out. We talk next steps after that.

Superheroes 9/21 – Kingdom Come chapter 3

For tomorrow make sure you have finished chapter 3 (that p. 154) of Kingdom Come. In the comments below, I’d like your write ups of the differing philosophies of Superman and Wonder Woman. As always, use quotes that illustrate the different tactics both would take to restore peace and order to the meta-human world.

Superheroes 9/19 – Kingdom Come chapter 2 reading

For tomorrow, read to page 106

In your notebooks (not online), make sure you have the answers to these questions:

-What are the motivations (and who belongs) to the three groups: the Justice League, the Outsiders and the Mankind Liberation Front?

-What does this chapter reveal about Superman’s face-off with Magog a decade ago and his subsequent retirement?

-What is at the center of the conflict between Superman and Bruce Wayne/Batman?

Superheroes 9/16 – Beginning Kingdom Come

Today we discussed a bit about the combat myth as it relates to Batman/Joker, Beowulf/monsters and God/Satan. Then, we started reading our first graphic novel, Kingdom Come.

For homework: finish chapter 1

Look back at this quote from the Batman/Joker Combat Myth article:

“In his discussion of sky and storm gods in Patterns in Comparative Religion, Mircea Eliade points out that, whether it is Zeus atop Mount Olympus or thousand-eyed Indra in his heavenly realm, such deities are often the watchful guardians of the moral order and the administers of retribution upon transgressors.”

In the comments of the blog, answer the following:
-Who is the Yahweh of the story? Use quotes from the book to establish why.
-Draw connections between this character and God/Jesus
-Why does Norman expect an Armageddon?

Superheroes 9/15 – Mythology & superheroes

Today we talked about the Judeo-Christian (Old Testament/New Testament) influences on the superheroes we all know and love. For more information, here’s some stuff I put online a couple of years ago.

For tonight read until the line break of this article on the batman-joker-combat-myth. Be prepared tomorrow to talk about how mythology — particularly Judeo-Christian stories — find its way into the stories of superheroes we know today.

American lit 9/12 – Death of a Salesman character analysis

Today we split into groups and studied a specific character:

Directions: Finish reading Act 1 with your group

With your group, choose a character to study:
-Charley & Bernard

As you read, track one character:
—-What do each of them want?
—-What details reveal parts of their character?
—-What are their fears, concerns, motivations, relationships and history?
—-What could this character symbolize? What symbols or objects do we associate with this character?

Use chart paper, make sure to include two or three choice quotes from your character.

Superheroes 9/12 – Is Beowulf a tragedy?

Today we finished reading Beowulf and in groups looked for specific lines that would reveal whether or not we can accurately call this story a tragedy.

Make sure you’re writing down the line numbers – you’ll be writing about this in the near future.


With your group finish reading Beowulf. Today we’re going to discuss whether or not our hero is a tragic hero.

As you review the weekend’s reading and your reading for today in class, keep track of passages that might reveal whether or not Beowulf is a tragic figure, or just a superhero who has reached the end of his journey. We’ll discuss at the end of class. Be prepared to back up your arguments.

Everyone should have significant line numbers written down in their notebooks after today’s class, as I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this idea later on. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.


Here’s a handy list of characteristics of a tragic hero from Pepperdine University:

Noble Stature: since tragedy involves the “fall” of a tragic hero, one theory is that one must have a lofty position to fall from. Another explanation of this characteristic is that tragedies involving people of stature affect the lives of others. In the case of a king, the tragedy would not only involve the individual and his family, it would also involve the whole society.

Tragic Flaw (Hamartia): the tragic hero must “fall” due to some flaw in his own personality. The most common tragic flaw is hubris (excessive pride). One who tries to attain too much possesses hubris.

Free Choice: while there is often a discussion of the role of fate in the downfall of a tragic hero, there must be an element of choice in order for there to be a true tragedy. The tragic hero falls because he chooses one course of action over another.

The Punishment Exceeds the Crime: the audience must not be left feeling that the tragic hero got what he deserved. Part of what makes the action “tragic” is to witness the injustice of what has occurred to the tragic hero.

Hero has Increased Awareness: it is crucial that the tragic hero come to some sort of an understanding of what went wrong or of what was really going on before he comes to his end.

Produces Catharsis in Audience: catharsis is a feeling of “emotional purgation” that an audience feels after witnessing the plight of a tragic hero: we feel emotionally drained, but exultant.