CSUN Professor Signals DC Comics Superhero in Pop-Culture Studies Class

August 7, 2017

Condensing the monumental impact that popular culture has on consumerism into a single-semester syllabus is nothing short of a superhero feat.

Charles Hatfield, professor of English at California State University, Northridge, has done just that by enlisting the help of DC Comics superhero Batman for the English 313 class he will be teaching this fall, “Studies in Popular Culture.”

“After teaching Batman in my comics and graphic-novels course this past spring, I was thinking, ‘I’m teaching Studies in Popular Culture for the first time in a while. What can I do to keep things fresh, to challenge myself and to draw students by reaching where their interests are?” Hatfield said. “I thought, ‘Batman! That might do it.’”

The class — designed to explore the way audiences interact with and use mass culture and the possible social and political meanings — gives students the opportunity to critically analyze transmedia marketing by studying popular art forms such as comics and movies.

“The idea is not just comics, it’s Batman in all media: music, TV, games, toys, etc.,” Hatfield said. “In the study of mass culture, there’s the argument of structure versus agency. If you’re on the agency side, then you would be inclined to say that the consumers of mass culture are not just passively absorbing whatever the culture industries provide. However, the structure side denies that we have agency, that as individuals or as communities, we don’t have the power to resist whatever is being given to us. Article Continues