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Pop Culture Presentation Series’ student-led lectures are ‘Taking Superheroes Seriously’


They protect major cities from nasty villains and fly through the air with the greatest of ease, but have you ever wondered what messages the superhero stories that dominate film, TV, comics and fantasy novels are sending about real-world issues like gender, politics, disability and more?

The latest installment of Edinboro University’s Pop Culture Presentation Series is set to tackle the issue head-on with “Taking Superheroes Seriously,” three student-led lectures and panel discussions exploring the role of superheroes, comics and graphic novels in popular culture.

The presentations are “The Dark Knight, Wonder Woman & Superman: Gender in Comic Book Worlds,” Feb. 12; “Super Problems, Social Issues: The Treatment of Real World Issues in Comic Books & Graphic Novels,” March 12; and “Making a Wheelchair Super: Disability in Comic Books,” April 16.

All lectures in the “Taking Superheroes Seriously” series are scheduled for 4:30-6 p.m. in the Dr. William P. Alexander Music Center Recital Hall on the Edinboro campus. The panels are free and open to the public. Parents of young children are advised that the series will contain adult content.

“Comic books have come a long way since the 1954 Comics Code, which censored content in order to minimize perceived damage to young minds. They have reached a level of attention and sophistication in popular culture that makes them worthy of study,” said Dr. Rhonda Matthews, associate professor of Sociology, who started the Pop Culture Presentation Series at EU in the fall 2013 semester. “Addressing such significant issues as gender, politics, class, disability, race and sexuality, they have become a legitimate literary and visual genre.”

For more information on the “Taking Superheroes Seriously” series, contact Dr. Matthews at