We have invented and listened to countless stories of fearless and world-saving heroes at least since antiquity. Heroes and superheroes also feature prominently in American comic, film, and in public narratives about real people. Joseph Campbell explains the hero’s popularity with the fact that the hero-narrative deals with universal topics and issues, such as crisis, trauma, transformation, restoration, and human power. Katherine G. Aiken writes that the hero might not be as universal as Campbell describes, but emerges from a specific cultural and historical context and, thus, reflects political, social, and cultural concerns of a particular moment in history.
Throughout the seminar, we will look at and discuss American superhero movies as well as ‘real-life’ heroes such as Edward Snowden, and cultural phenomena like the clapping for heroes of the corona-pandemic. We will address questions including: When and why do call someone a hero? Why do we seek heroes, especially in times of crises? How do heroes help us deal with moments of crisis? What can heroes tell us about the cultures that produced them?
Students will prepare a round table discussion as their Prüfungsvorleistung and write an end-of-term paper on a topic of their choice. A detailed syllabus and list or primary and secondary texts will be handed out in the first session.