Next year will mark the 80th anniversary of Batman, the seminal creation of writer Bill Finger with artist Bob Kane. Over the last eight decades, DC Comics’ Dark Knight has established himself as one of the all-time great superheroes through various incarnations and adaptations. But this fall, Batman is coming to the halls of academia with “The Evolution of Batman,” a new college course at the University of Baltimore. Senior editor Dan Casey recently caught up with Steven Leyva, the instructor behind the course, to get additional insight about why Batman is worthy of study.
“It’s an opportunity, really, just to look at how Batman, this almost 80-year old icon has really grown up with 20th century America,” explained Leyva. “He has been there for all of these technological changes, for changes in mass media, for changes in pop culture. And in some ways, he’s a cultural touchstone that I think is worthy of deep academic study. And I think ultimately, just a fun place to practice critical thinking and critical writing.”
What’s on the Bat-syllabus? A steady course of some of the Caped Crusaders greatest hits, including the ’60s TV series starring Adam West, all of the big screen Batmen, and of course, Batman: The Animated Series. Unlike some comic book creations, Batman doesn’t just change with the times; he changes with the creators and is a uniquely malleable character who can be interpreted through many different perspectives.
Leyva told us that he will also dive into “Death in the Family,” the controversial Batman story that gave fans control over whether Jason Todd’s Robin lived or died. Leyva also warned potential students that they won’t simply be able to coast through the course. This is going to be a challenging class, even for those who are well-versed in their Batman-ology.
Would you take a Batman class at your college? Answer the Bat-signal in our comment section below!
Images: DC Comics