Adjunct Professor Christina Blanch is a doctoral candidate well-versed in women’s studies, who happens to also be a comic book expert. In conjunction with Ball State University and supported by comic book pioneer and icon Stan Lee, Prof. Blanch is leading what they’re dubbing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) this spring called “Gender Through Comics: A Super MOOC.” It is a free multimedia learning experience. The high-tech classroom will utilize interactive video lectures, online discussion, and streaming interviews supported by social media participation, such as Google hangouts. Some of the comic industry’s biggest names, including Brian Michael Bendis, Terry Moore, Brian K. Vaughan, Mark Waid, and Marvel editors Steve Wacker and Sana Amanat, are lending their time for interviews and interaction, and will even directly engage a few lucky students who are selected to stammer out a question.
The medium is of course known for its vixens and vamps, big-breasted temptresses, and doe-eyed damsels in distress, but contrarily it does have its heroines. “In the class we will look at how gender is constructed and how the stereotypes of certain gender traits are perpetrated by the producers of cultural material. Masculinity and femininity have traits associated with them that are not equal with a person’s sex,” Prof. Blanch told Wired. “We will look at how women and men are represented in comic books and see how masculine or feminine they are.”
Not treading lightly, Prof. Blanch also plans to delve into the issue of the so-called fake geek girl: chicks far too good looking or too feminine to really be interested in what’s stereotypically nerdy guy territory. The eccentric and otherwise accepting community can often be sexist, and some theorize that cerebral guys are threatened by their female counterparts. Blanch states, “With the recent ‘fake geek girl’ debates, I also plan to talk about the comic book culture and who consumes the material.”
The provocative and proactive “Gender Through Comics: A Super MOOC” experience will run from April 2 to May 10, 2013. Registration is hosted via Canvas.net. (Thanks for the head’s up from my local comic book shop, Blast-Off Comics.)
Hope to see you in class, ladies. —Casandra Armour