Massolit Discussion: Patrick Vaughan
Why has the “superhero film” proven so popular in recent years? Throughout history various civilizations have celebrated transcendent and heroic figures--from Prometheus to Odin to Joan of Arc to Tarzan and John Henry among so many others. In the 19th century Friedrich Nietzsche wrote notoriously of a “superman” seemingly unencumbered by Western traditions of charity and compassion. The modern comic book introduced a more literal “Superman” who wore blue tights and a red cape and fought for “truth and justice and the American Way.” In the 1960s Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created a group of more flawed but compelling Marvel superheroes struggling with the socio-scientific questions of the post-nuclear age. In 1989 Tim Burton’s “Batman” marked a turn toward a more dark and gritty urban realism that has since spawned a generation of similar "superhero" films. How and why has this genre come to define our own cinematic era? And what does it say about the age we live in? Professor Patrick Vaughan will discuss these issues. We hope you can make it.
PATRICK VAUGHAN is an American historian and scholar teaching at the MA program in Transatlantic Studies, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. He specializes in the history of the Cold War and America’s use of "soft power" to achieve its foreign policy aims in the 1970s, which helped turn the tide of the Soviet-American conflict.
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