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A comic course with Batman, Donald Duck

Comic characters Donald Duck, Wonder Woman and Batman are set to enter the academic curriculum of Dalhousie University next year.

education Updated: Sep 29, 2008 12:00 IST

Comic characters Donald Duck, Wonder Woman and Batman are set to enter the academic curriculum of Dalhousie University next year. The University is set to introduce a new course Comics and Cartoons that will trace the history of cartoons and comics, from 18th-and 19th-century political propaganda to the golden age of Marvel and DC.

“The department was looking for this kind of a course for a while, since before I came here,” said Anthony Enns, cultural theorist and Dalhousie professor “There are many different ways to teach (this course),” said Prof. Enns.

“One obvious way would be to take a strict literary approach-read more highbrow comic books and make an argument for comic books as literature. If you were going to teach the course that way, I think you would probably not bother to teach superheroes. I think that would be a mistake. So much of graphic material is made up of the superhero genre. It would be wrong to just ignore it,” he added.

Talking about the teaching pattern he said, “I was thinking I was going to do a unit on Wonder Woman. Is Wonder Woman a strong feminist figure, or is she a kind of a sex symbol? For Batman, there are some articles championing Batman as a sort of queer hero.” A possible unit on Donald Duck will present the imperialist ideology.

Prof. Enns is also well-versed in more traditionally highbrow graphic novels, such as Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-winner Maus, a Holocaust fable told, like Orwell’s Animal Farm, through the use of animals-as-people. Enns hopes the course will be accessible to all students.