Apr 19, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

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PHI 052 - (HP) Philosophy and Popular Culture

Semester Hours: 3-4 s.h.


Most films, books, TV shows, and theatre, as well as products, in popular culture, provoke thought about philosophical issues (for example “Breaking Bad” and ethics; “Robocop” and personal identity; the iPod and philosophy of technology; “Game of Thrones” and political theory). This course is typically grounded in a single work (understanding ‘work’ to mean a series, or multiple volumes or sequels) of popular culture, and pursues a set of philosophical questions that are developed in that work. Readings will be drawn from recent philosophical work on the questions. Students will be expected to have or to develop their own familiarity with popular cultural work.

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PHI 052: (HP) Philosophy & Popular Culture

Once dismissed as “kid’s stuff,” the comic book has gained respectability as a genuine literary form in recent decades. Indeed, the comic book, or graphic novel, is a good vehicle for a certain kind of speculative fiction, where philosophical ideas can be portrayed and examined. Stories of superheroes and villains, androids and aliens, travel through time and space… they are not merely thrilling to read, but offer food for thought and contemplation. In this class we will consider a selection of comic books - classics, such as Watchmen, Ronin, The Fantastic 4, Longshot, as well as newer ones, such as O Human Star and Seconds - and explore their philosophical content. Students should have some familiarity already with the genre and the works mentioned. The course will also have as a theme, how the superhero genre makes certain assumptions about good and evil, and about who we are supposed to be rooting for, that raise philosophical questions about who “the good guys” are. We will touch on many of the traditional problems that philosophers have wrestled
with - free will, personal identity, the nature of time, the existence of God - in a unique and entertaining way.

Prerequisite(s)/Course Notes:
No previous study of philosophy is presupposed or required. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

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