Lectures on superheroes from Marvel and the Smithsonian

Web Log: New online course offers chance to earn a certificate in everything ‘super’

The legendary Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame has collaborated with the Smithsonian Institute to offer a free online course on superheroes and their impact on popular culture. Hosted on Massive Open Online Course (Mooc) platform edX, there is even an opportunity to earn a verified certificate.

This is the ultimate in “edutainment” for comic book fans who will discover the ancient origins of the modern superhero, learning about Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods. There is a distinctly American focus, taking a look at everything from the effect of McCarthy era politics and its effect on the comic book industry to the framing of the comic book as an indigenous American art form sitting alongside jazz.

With Lee on board you can expect to see lots of references to classic Marvel superheroes such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk and Thor. However, one of the most relevant lectures appears to be on the recent resurgence in superhero popularity and how this might affect the development of a child's moral code. This will be delivered by Dr Christopher Robichaud, ethics and public policy lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.