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GERMAN 285 A: Representation and Diversity

MF 11:30am - 12:50pm / * *
W 11:30am - 12:20pm / * *
Joint Sections: 
C LIT 251 A
Ellwood Wiggins

Syllabus Description:


(German 285, Comp Lit 251)

Prof. Ellwood Wiggins

Office Hours: M 1-2; Wed 12:30-1:30, or by appt. Email me to schedule a Zoom meeting!

Can superheroes save us from racism

and pandemics?

morphguardian angelSunnyLa Espiaterra

What makes a hero? Why do we need heroes? What happens when heroes fail us? In this course, we explore the characteristics of heroes in literature and film from antiquity to today. The formal and psychological structures of heroism will be analyzed under the rubrics of admiration, identification, seduction, and disillusionment. We will interrogate how both genre and gender impact the representation of heroes, and examine characters such as Ms. Marvel, Achilles, Odysseus, Antigone, Jesus, Satan, the Buddha, Zarathustra, Winnetou, Wonder Woman (and other Amazonian Warrior Princesses), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer . 

  • Monday & Friday lectures; Wednesday workshop sessions.
  • Students will work in groups on creative projects to create their own superheroes.
  • Students will write one essay over the course of the quarter on their own personal heroes.
  • Taught in English. VLPA or I&S, + DIV credit.

This course will be taught remotely, with both synchronous and asynchronous elements. 

Mon/Fri lectures will be recorded so that that you can view at your convenience if you cannot attend.

Wednesday sessions (11:30-12:20) are workshops that require your participation.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the quarter, you will be able to:

  • Critique heroes according to the rubrics of admiration, identification, and disillusionment.
  • Describe the important features of different modes of creative production for representing heroes: epic poetry; rhetoric; drama; melodrama; narrative; comics; and film.
  • Identify the characteristics and functions of heroes in Ancient Greek culture and explain the transformations of heroes in later European and American cultures.
  • Assess the impact of representing minority heroes in terms of colonialism, orientalism, cultural appropriation, and gender dynamics.
  • Critically examine your own evolving relationship with heroic models from childhood onwards.

Course Components

Course Policies

Student Support

Syllabus (Daily)

Grading Scale

Catalog Description: 
Studies of culture and ethics with aesthetic, literary, and philosophical tools of analysis, with special attention to issues of identity, diversity, civil rights, environmental justice, and multiculturalism. Readings and discussions in English.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 6, 2020 - 9:13pm