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Dr. Durahn Taylor Launches New Superhero Class

Superheroes%2C+such+as+Spiderman%2C+will+be+covered+and+discussed+in+a+historical+context+in+Dr.+Durahn+Taylor%27s+Spring+2019+course.+
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Dr. Durahn Taylor Launches New Superhero Class

Superheroes, such as Spiderman, will be covered and discussed in a historical context in Dr. Durahn Taylor's Spring 2019 course.

Superheroes, such as Spiderman, will be covered and discussed in a historical context in Dr. Durahn Taylor's Spring 2019 course.

Raj Eiamworakul

Superheroes, such as Spiderman, will be covered and discussed in a historical context in Dr. Durahn Taylor's Spring 2019 course.

Raj Eiamworakul

Raj Eiamworakul

Superheroes, such as Spiderman, will be covered and discussed in a historical context in Dr. Durahn Taylor's Spring 2019 course.

Jake Maddia, Arts & Entertainment Writer

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Superhero fans in the Pace community are in luck for the spring semester when Dr. Durahn Taylor officially begins his new history course, Supermen and Superwomen: U.S. History Through Popular Fantasy (HIS 224).

Taylor is passionate about understanding how comic books and pop culture reflects the anxieties and aspirations of the American people throughout history.

Taylor initially came up with this idea because in 1995 at Concordia College, he taught a course called “U.S History Through the Comics.” Taylor also states that this is a golden opportunity for him because he is currently in the process of writing a book manuscript about how comics and the cartoon industry have worked with government figures to promote public health to American Youth. 

He also published a scholarly article about comics and American politics during the 1930’s.

Taylor says that he hopes that this course will help students develop their abilities to analyze history using different senses. These senses include reading through newspaper comics, and comic book stories, listening through radio dramas, and visually watching through motion pictures, and animation. They will learn how to understand history in different ways besides a textbook or documentary. Students will look at pop culture from a different perspective. 

“Students have superpowers too,” Taylor said, “you might say they will develop the power of Context Ray Vision.” 

Along with the superheroes, students will also discuss villains. Dr. Taylor says that you can tell a lot about what writers, publishers, and artist believe when they are writing about an enemy. 

“For instance, Lex Luther has been depicted in different ways depending on the time era. He is a war profiteer, a generic mad scientist, and even President of the United States,” Taylor explained. “In these post 9/11 days, the Joker is seen as a potential mad terrorist. And you can’t understand Captain America’s enemy, Red Skull, without understanding how Marvel was actively opposed to the Nazi party even before the United States entered World War II.”

Although superhero movies have been highly successful in recent years, this class will not talk about the films most are familiar with. In fact, Taylor’s class will discuss more about superheroes that were popular before Marvel, and DC. For example, Taylor said that the class will look into heroes like The Shadow, the Green Hornet, Zorro, and Dick Tracy, all of whom were introduced in pulp novels. The history professor will also talk about radio shows and newspaper comic strips, which were way before DC and Marvel popularized the comic book medium.

The class will also look at animated features from Disney and Warner Bros. Taylor will explore how their features reflected trends in American society during the times in which they were made.

“So if you are not into comics yet, but you like the characters of Disney, and other animated studios, then this course is for you as well,” he said. 

Once the class opens in January, Taylor will play his usual role as an educator. But what is sure to make the class entertaining is the fact he is also a major superhero fan.

He grew up on DC comics, and said they will always have a special place in his heart. However, he admits the recent Marvel movies have been better because he thinks they are more uplifting on an emotional scale.

“The recent solo Captain America, and Spiderman movies are particularly good” Durahn says, “those two are my favorite Marvel superheros.”

There are still open spots to register for the course on the Pace Portal. 

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