“I adore all the stories Marvel has been telling lately—comics and cartoons and recent movies especially—as they’re creating a more diverse world. However, people often don’t realize that 70s comics and even 40s ones were just as diverse and empowering. I’ve now written a pile of books on superheroes and present on them at lots of conventions.” ~Prof. Valerie



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    Marvel comic book covers for the Superheroes course at Athena's Advanced Academy
    InstructorProf. Valerie Frankel
    Content LevelsGrades 6-7 • Middle School
    Grades 7-8 • Junior High
    Course Length6 Weeks
    Live Webinars Held OnTuesdays, 4:00 - 4:50 PM Pacific - See below for webinar dates

    American superheroes are nearly a century old, and their history is one of underdogs in cheap comic books.

    Around 2000, the big era of superhero films started, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe starting a few years later.

    Today, we’re flooded. From 2021 to 2022, Marvel Studios released 17 movies and streaming titles in just Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning the Multiverse Saga. We’ll focus on the latest awesome releases: WandaVision, Shang Chi, Guardians of the Galaxy, Loki, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Ms. Marvel.

    We’ll do some literary and visual analysis, considering depictions of race, gender, and culture as well as how they tie into values and propaganda.

    Watch deeper, learn more, and astound your friends and teachers!

    Course Webinar Dates:

    • Tuesday, May 23
    • Tuesday, May 30
    • Tuesday, June 6
    • Tuesday, June 13
    • Tuesday, June 20
    • Tuesday, June 27

    What to expect in the Required section in the classroom each week:

    • Class discussion topics
    • Related articles to read
    • Reader responses or similar activities

    What to expect in the Highly Suggested & Optional sections in the classroom each week:

    • Recommended reading of widely available graphic novels, and possibly films or cartoons.
    • Curated resources, including websites & videos, are provided to excite learners and to add depth to the subject matter.
    • Additional lessons and resources to help students get more out of the lessons and pursue their love of superheroes.

    What to expect during the weekly webinar:

    • Weekly webinars are 50 minutes long. Webinars are recorded and are available for students with schedule conflicts.
    • Lecture with slides on the history, symbolism, and context of films, comics, and other superhero media, accompanied by discussion and student observations.
    • Active Participation (via the microphone and chat) is encouraged in online class discussions and also during lectures.

    Before taking this course, students should be able to: 

    • Read at a solid 5th-grade level or above.
    • Be comfortable reading graphic novels.
    • Type fluently.
    • Write a paragraph independently.

    Students should be willing to:

    • Write paragraphs and answer discussion questions for regular homework.
    • Critically think about superheroes in their historical context.
    • Actively participate (via the microphone) in the class discussion.
    • Encourage class discussion by adding their questions/ideas in the chat window during the webinar.

    Required books & materials:

    • Disney Plus Subscription
      • (We’ll be watching selections from WandaVision, Shang Chi, Guardians of the Galaxy, Loki, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Ms. Marvel)